Torquato Is Lead on Dept of Defense MURI Grant

By Wendy Plump
Thursday, Mar. 10, 2022

The Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant to a research team headed up by Salvatore Torquato, Lewis Bernard Professor of Natural Sciences, Professor of Chemistry and the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, one of 28 such teams throughout the country to receive funding beginning this year. 

The five-year grant of just over $6M reflects the DoD’s commitment to the cross-fertilization of ideas in areas of strategic importance and is a cornerstone of its basic research portfolio.

Torquato will spearhead a project to advance the field of disordered hyperuniformity, titled, “Transport in Disordered Hyperuniform Systems and Networks.” 

These schematics depict the observation window used to diagnose hyperuniformity in point patterns and two-phase media.
These schematics depict the observation window used to diagnose hyperuniformity in point patterns and two-phase media. 
Graphic courtesy of the Torquato Lab/Complex Materials Theory Group

The team includes Paul Steinhardt, Princeton’s Albert Einstein Professor in Science, as a co-principal investigator; and P.I.s at Arizona State University and Pennsylvania State University.

“I was delighted to be awarded this grant since it involves hyperuniformity, a topic that we pioneered together with Frank Stillinger. In addition, Paul and I have been close collaborators since 2005,” said Torquato. “In fact our team, which includes theoretical, computational, experimental and network scientists, are world leaders in the emerging field of hyperuniformity and have a long history of working together successfully. 

“Hyperuniformity is still in its infancy. Such a concentrated effort by superb scientists will quicken the pace of research in a way that is not possible with single-investigator grants.”

Disordered hyperuniform systems are exotic isotropic states of matter that possess order on large length scales—despite lacking any long-range translational and/or orientational order—permitting the coherent transport of photons, phonons, electrons, and other waves. 

In order to broaden our understanding of disordered hyperuniformity to discover new types of hyperuniform materials, structures, and networks, the team will employ techniques from statistical mechanics, condensed matter theory, optimization and network science. They will formulate novel network metrics and theories that allow a generalized concept of hyperuniformity to inform new analytical methods and launch new research directions in network science. 

“By supporting teams whose members have diverse sets of expertise, the MURI program acknowledges that the complexities of modern science and engineering challenges often intersect more than one discipline and require creative and diverse approaches to tackle these problems,” said Bindu Nair, director, Basic Research Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD (R&E).

“This cross-fertilization of ideas can accelerate research progress to enable more rapid R&D breakthroughs and hasten the transition of basic research findings to practical application.”

The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E) is the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Defense. The USD(R&E) champions research, science, technology, engineering, and innovation to maintain the United States military’s technological advantage. To read the full press release on the MURI award, click here