Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems Celebrates 10 Years of Innovation



TANMS team members at the 2022 NSF ERC Biennial Meeting in Arlington, Virginia

Jan 26, 2023

UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Over the past decade, the multi-institutional Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems (TANMS) funded by the National Science Foundation has made big strides in its efforts to control magnetism in tiny magnetic devices.

Established in 2012, TANMS is a Generation-3 Nanosystems Engineering Research Center, headquartered in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering under the leadership of director Gregory Carman, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. 

Due to the COVID pandemic, the celebration of the center’s milestone last year has been postponed to coincide with its ninth Annual Research Strategy Meeting on February 6 at UCLA. The event will bring together representatives from academia, industry and government entities to discuss discoveries and technology advances in multiferroics — a rare but promising type of materials with the unique characteristic of having both electrical and magnetic properties that directly interact with each other.

The NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) program is among the largest and most prestigious of its kind, establishing multi-institutional centers with 10 years of federal funding. The program strives to advance breakthrough technology and cultivate the next generation of engineering leaders to make positive societal impacts by addressing real-life challenges. To achieve this mission, the centers aim to build a diverse and inclusive ecosystem with convergent research, engineering workforce development and partnerships that promote innovation.

TANMS encompasses multidisciplinary faculty collaborating across six partner institutions: California State University, Northridge; Cornell University; Northeastern University; UC Berkeley; UCLA and the University of Texas at Dallas. The center’s research, guided in part by input from its scientific and industry advisory boards, has produced significant advances in its three testbeds — computer memory, antennas and cell sorting. 

The center has made discoveries that have created a paradigm shift in solving some of the most difficult challenges hindering the advancement of microelectronic devices. The team’s efforts in modeling and materials science have enabled advancements such as memory technology that is 1000 times more efficient in power consumption, small antennas that can communicate through the human body and the capability to manipulate cells magnetically for future medical applications including the treatment of cancer.  

A video highlighting the accomplishments of TANMS

Collectively, TANMS’ researchers have published their findings in more than 500 journals. They have also established relationships with over 30 companies through the center’s industry affiliates program. More importantly, the center has built robust K to 20 education outreach and internship programs based on a cradle-to-career philosophy that recognizes and addresses the importance of diversity, equity and inclusivity in developing an engineering workforce pipeline. 

“We are grateful to the National Science Foundation for its generous support of TANMS over the last 10 years,” Carman said. “The tremendous advancements accomplished by our multidisciplinary team of academia and industry collaborators, as well as our students and postdoctoral scholars, have greatly expanded the multiferroic field, positioning it to change the world with devices ranging from micron-size motors to efficient computational platforms.”

A recently published NSF report highlights the center’s achievements in research and education. On the research front, TANMS investigators have demonstrated concepts that could allow for energy-efficient, technologically useful nanoscale magneto-electronic devices that retain memory when unpowered, at sizes 100 times smaller than those found in existing devices. 

Also featured in the report is the TANMS High School Science Initiative, which engages teachers in jointly creating engineering pathways for students at different learning proficiency levels. As part of the TANMS Research Experience for Teachers program, educators receive professional development that helps them create project-based STEM curricula. In partnership with the California Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement program, the multiyear effort has culminated in the development of the UC-approved college preparatory elective, “Introduction to Principles and Application of Electromagnetism.”

The “graduation” of TANMS and six other NSF-funded centers following a 10-year run was celebrated at the 2022 NSF ERC Biennial Meeting last September in Alexandria, Virginia. The event was attended by NSF leadership, congressional representatives and TANMS management along with its Student Leadership Council members Shreya Patel and Jesse Rivera. To mark the occasion, TANMS released a video highlighting the center’s accomplishments. 

Now in its 11th year, TANMS will pivot to become a sales and service center providing fee-based products and services that have advanced beyond fundamental research and are ready for translation into industry. 

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