The primary goal of IRG #2 is to develop and produce materials with superior mechanical properties using polymer-based processing strategies that include polymers, ceramics, metals, and structured composite materials. Polymers and gels are versatile materials with useful mechanical, electrical and biological functions. Center scientists are developing methods for controlling the properties of these materials by tuning the structure at the molecular level, by developing supramolecular assemblies with dimensions in the nanometer range, and by the addition of appropriately chosen nanoparticle fillers.?Ðµâ•‘ Approaches to self assembly include the use of hydrophobic and hydrogen bonding interactions in low molecular weight peptide amphiphiles, and control of the sequence distribution in 'gradient copolymers', which can be made to exhibit a well-defined composition gradient along the polymer backbone.?Ðµâ•‘?Ðµâ•‘ Equilibrium and non-equilibrium approaches are being developed for the dispersion of nanoparticles, including single-walled carbon nanotubes and graphene nanoplatelets, and design principles for obtaining assemblies with the desired structure and properties are being investigated.