The grant provides six years of funding (2008 to 2014) for the Princeton center, which is one of 26 research programs in the United States supported by NSF's Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program.
The new funding represents the largest of the four such grants Princeton has received since the University first won the highly competitive award in 1994. The Princeton center brings together faculty and students from five science and engineering departments to explore the basic properties of matter and to use their discoveries to advance science and technology.
For condensed matter/material science, $20 million is a lot of money and can sustain a large variety of extremely important work for years. The NSF award is an outgrowth of the Science and Technology Centers funding that was established many years ago. It has funded everything from center for nanoscience to superconductivity during the heydays of high-Tc superconductors.