Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials (MC-CAM) — a UCSB entity representing the ongoing materials research alliance between Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (Tokyo) and UCSB — has recently announced its extension for a new period. By this new agreement, Mitsubishi Chemical, Japan’s largest chemical company, will invest approximately $6 million in UCSB over the next four years.
Since its establishment in 2001, MC-CAM has produced more than 130 publications and 100 patent applications, one of the highest rates of invention production of any university-centered research program worldwide. The center reports significantly above-average efficiency in its technology output, with a cost-per-patent of approximately $300,000 as compared to technology companies’ $500,000 and research universities’ $2.7 million averages.
Much of the research unit’s current work focuses on a property of transistors. Transistors are made from semiconducting conjugated polymers, or long chains of organic molecules easily processed at room temperature from solutions that have high carrier mobility. High carrier mobility allows electrons to move rapidly through the transistor material, a necessary feature for high switching speeds that define display applications like phones, tablets, PCs and TVs.
MC-CAM is directed by Glenn Fredrickson, professor of chemical engineering, and is affiliated with UCSB’s College of Engineering and Materials Research Laboratory. Fredrickson said that the semiconducting polymers that he uses are affordable and versatile.
“Not only are semiconducting polymers easy and inexpensive to process, but they can be deposited on plastic films, which allows for flexible, bendable electronics, such as displays and lighting,” Fredrickson said.
Beyond new types of semiconducting polymers for advanced displays and new ways of processing such polymers, the MC-CAM is concentrating on similar molecules for use in solar cells, materials for batteries beyond Lithium-ion, phosphors to improve the efficiency and color rendering of solid-state lighting devices (LEDs) and polymer-inorganic composites with high thermal conductivity and heat resistance for power electronics applications.
Fredrickson is not the only one playing an invested role in the Mitsubishi-funded research. Also chiming in with excited sentiments is Chancellor Henry T. Yang, who in addition to his chief administrative duties serves as a professor of mechanical engineering.
“UC Santa Barbara’s 12-year partnership with Mitsubishi Chemical is an exemplary model of a successful and enduring global research collaboration,” Yang said. “Thanks to the visionary leadership and persistent hard work of Professor Glenn Fredrickson and the extraordinary research contributions of our colleagues across the disciplines, MC-CAM has become a world leader in developing organic and hybrid organic-inorganic materials for electronic and optical device applications.”
Fredrickson expects MC-CAM to stay with the relatively new power electronics program for a while.
“Mitsubishi was very pleased by the progress including leads on new classes of materials, as well as many patents and publications that have come out of the center,” Fredrickson said. “In turn, the students and faculty working on the program value Mitsubishi’s guidance and advice in selecting important programs. This is the basis for renewing the partnership.”
Chancellor Yang said that the partnership exemplifies a mutually beneficial and progressive forum for academic and industrial institutions to connect.
“We are very proud that MC-CAM is now known as a flagship for long-term international collaboration between industry and academia and for translating fundamental research results into practical applications,” Yang said.