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Ohio Northern University Partners with NSF CLiPS Program

Oct 9, 2006

Ohio Northern University has joined the newly-formed National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Layered Polymeric Systems (CLiPS) Affiliate Program that will give ONU students an unparalleled opportunity to study and conduct research in an emerging advanced polymer formulation process that will have a dramatic impact on the global marketplace.

Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, is the lead university for this center. ONU was selected as one of five principally undergraduate institutions for the affiliate program due to ONU’s ability to produce quality undergraduate students that will be able to contribute to the advancement of the field of polymer science and engineering.

The CLiPS approach strategically integrates polymer science and engineering with research in nanotechnology, optics, laser physics, membranes, biomedical engineering and other scientific disciplines in the “polymers plus” concept, said Eric Baumgartner, dean of ONU’s T.J. Smull College of Engineering. The partnership will provide incredible options for both science and engineering undergraduates.

ONU’s activities within CLiPS will be an internal partnership between its Colleges of Engineering and Arts & Sciences. The academic collaboration will include curriculum development that will introduce students to the formulation and fabrication of polymers along with the investigation of the material and optical properties of layered polymeric structures. Dr. Jeffery Gray, professor and chair in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, and Dr. Helen Shen, assistant professor in the mechanical engineering department, will serve as facilitators of the CLiPS program at ONU.

The process involves the layering of polymers down to approximately 10 nanometers--nearly the molecular level, and producing new materials that can make products stronger, less porous and function beyond the capabilities of traditional plastic materials. For example, the layering process can create new packaging materials for food that will keep it air tight, thus naturally prolonging the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. The process can also allow insertion of electronic devices into clothing thereby producing computer displays on wearable items.

CLiPS will receive approximately $19 million from NSF over the first five years with ONU receiving $120,000 during this same time period. Case Western Reserve University and its affiliate partners will have the opportunity to reapply after four years to renew funding for a second five-year period.