Meeting Report - MRS Fall

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The Materials Research Society (MRS) annual fall meeting in Boston was again a powerful showcase of technological capability and innovation in materials science with over 6,000 attendees.  There were a total of 53 symposia grouped into cluster areas of “broader impact”, “biomaterials and soft materials”, “electrochemistry”, “electronics, magnetics, and photonics”, “energy and sustainability”, “mechanical behavior and failure mechanisms of materials”, “nanomaterials”, “processing and manufacturing”, and “theory, characterization and modeling.”   This “cluster area” definition was a new feature of MRS designed to try and geographically group similar symposia together. I took advantage of this when I spent a couple of days in the “biomaterials and soft materials” cluster and could easily hop between symposia since they were all located in the same hallway.

The weeklong meeting starts on Sunday with a selection of tutorials.  This year there were 8 tutorial sessions with 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, each affiliated with a different symposium happening during the remainder of the week.  These tutorials are typically well-attended with 50-100 attendees and provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about important topics in materials science.  They also provide attendees with something to do as many attendees fly in on Saturday to avoid the Thanksgiving Sunday travel rush (and probably get cheaper flights as well).

One of my favorite parts of the MRS meeting is the Symposium X series where they bring in leading materials scientists to give lunchtime lectures (free pizza provided!) on frontiers of materials science.  These talks are typically held in huge ballrooms that can accommodate a significant fraction of the meeting’s attendees; and they are typically extremely well attended.  This year’s Symposium X was no exception and featured talks on materials for transportation applications, active matter, multiferroics, and biomedical applications. 

The meeting also features presentation of key MRS awards including the Materials theory award (to Gerbrand Ceder of UC Berkeley), the MRS medal (to Robert Cava of Princeton), the David Turnbull award (to James De Yoreo of PNNL), and the Von Hippel award, MRS’s highest honor that went this year to Charlie Lieber of Harvard (image below).

Characterization methods typically factor in as an important player in the research and this year was no exception.   Various microscopy methods factored into almost every talk that I attended, and there was also a dedicated 4-day symposium devoted to “Advances in spatial, energy and time resolution in electron microscopy.”

The exhibit floor is typically another highlight of the MRS fall show and it featured a sold-out show with over 240 vendors.  The show features a wide variety of vendors representing instrumentation companies (ultrahigh vacuum, profilometers, AFM, nanoindentors, electron microscopy, optical microscopy), related accessories, shared user facilities such as those at NIST and Cornell, publishers and more.

For anyone feeling sad that the MRS show is over, or sad that they could not be there, do not despair because MRS has annual meetings in both spring and fall, and preregistration opens next month for the spring meeting in April in Phoenix, Arizona!


Dalia Yablon, SurfaceChar LLC


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