The University of Chicago MRSEC has established a highly successful, multidisciplinary approach to issues of technological importance at the forefront of materials research. The overarching goal, common to all of our Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs), is to produce the design principles for the next generation of materials. Each of the four IRGs addresses a fundamental issue applicable to a broad class of materials. Our programs attack some of the deepest challenges of materials research. Common themes include investigating materials formed far from equilibrium, exploring new paradigms for materials fabrication and response especially at the micro- and nano- scale, and exploiting feedback between structure and dynamics. These themes, reappearing in each IRG, deal with important basic problems exploring design principles that are far from conventional and whose prospects are far from certain.