Pennsylvania State and Cornell Universities have won the first awards in NSF’s Materials Innovation Platforms program. The universities will serve as research centers for materials scientists nationwide who want to use high-end instruments to study bulk and thin-film crystalline materials. “NSF is focusing on crystal growth because the U.S. has fallen behind in this area of science after having been a global leader in material synthesis,” says F. Fleming Crim, NSF assistant director for mathematical and physical sciences. The effort is part of the Materials Genome Initiative’s goal to halve the speed and cost of taking materials discoveries from the lab to industry. Penn State will develop instruments to study metal chalcogenide materials—such as sulfides, selenides, and tellurides—that are used in digital circuits and flexible electronics. Cornell is heading a multi-institution team that includes Johns Hopkins, Clark Atlanta, and Princeton Universities. It will focus on examining oxide and oxide-based two-dimensional films on new substrates to accelerate development of new electronics.