Executive Summary

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) requested that the National Research Council (NRC), through the National Materials Advisory Board (NMAB), conduct a study to identify and prioritize critical needs for materials and processing research and development (R&D) to meet twenty-first-century defense needs. The Committee on Materials Research for Defense After Next was established to investigate investments in R&D required to meet both intermediate (up to 2020) and long-term (beyond 2020) DOD needs. The committee began by attending the Defense Science and Technology Reliance Subarea for Materials and Processes Meeting, on December 6–8, 1999, in Annapolis, Maryland. This was followed by a second committee meeting. The objective of these two meetings was to learn DOD’s ideas on long-term future systems, logistics, and cost. A third meeting was held with materials experts from industry, academia, and national laboratories to determine research opportunities that could be realized in the 20-year to 30-year time frame specified for this study. A fourth meeting was held to analyze the data that had been gathered and finalize the draft of this interim report. This report is a review of the study results to date and a plan for future committee activities to meet the study objectives.

GENERIC DEFENSE NEEDS

The following core tasks lie ahead for the U.S. military:

  • long-distance power projection

  • capability of fighting far away

  • coping with the eroding overseas base structure

  • ensuring homeland defense

  • adjusting to major changes in warfare, including joint-service operations and coalition peacekeeping operations and humanitarian missions



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Executive Summary The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) requested that the National Research Council (NRC), through the National Materials Advisory Board (NMAB), conduct a study to identify and prioritize critical needs for materials and processing research and development (R&D) to meet twenty-first-century defense needs. The Committee on Materials Research for Defense After Next was established to investigate investments in R&D required to meet both intermediate (up to 2020) and long-term (beyond 2020) DOD needs. The committee began by attending the Defense Science and Technology Reliance Subarea for Materials and Processes Meeting, on December 6–8, 1999, in Annapolis, Maryland. This was followed by a second committee meeting. The objective of these two meetings was to learn DOD’s ideas on long-term future systems, logistics, and cost. A third meeting was held with materials experts from industry, academia, and national laboratories to determine research opportunities that could be realized in the 20-year to 30-year time frame specified for this study. A fourth meeting was held to analyze the data that had been gathered and finalize the draft of this interim report. This report is a review of the study results to date and a plan for future committee activities to meet the study objectives. GENERIC DEFENSE NEEDS The following core tasks lie ahead for the U.S. military: long-distance power projection capability of fighting far away coping with the eroding overseas base structure ensuring homeland defense adjusting to major changes in warfare, including joint-service operations and coalition peacekeeping operations and humanitarian missions

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The following trends in warfare are expected to continue: The focus will be on fielding a precision strike force that can maneuver rapidly and effectively and survive an attack far away. The force must be able to conceal its activities from an enemy and detect enemy activities. Advances in information technology will lead to new levels of coordination among forces. Global awareness through real-time, networked sensors and communications will facilitate command and control and enable precision strikes. Using unmanned vehicles, information will be gathered in new ways, force will be delivered remotely, and the risk of casualties will be reduced. Fighting in urban areas will increase, which will require entirely different strategies and equipment. The presentations to the committee were focused on new threats that may not necessarily be countered by force projection. During the Cold War, the threat, principally from the Soviet Union, of nuclear weapons was a major concern. U.S. security was safeguarded by highly developed strategic deterrence to neutralize that threat. In the future, threats to the United States may be the delivery by missile (or other means) of small numbers of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons from very disparate sources, such as a terrorist group that gains access to the United States by covert means. The nation could also be threatened by an assault on the complex web of information systems that are becoming increasingly important in the delivery of goods and services. Vulnerable infrastructure points include power grids, dams, and similar facilities. The following priorities were identified to the committee: the United States must continue to improve its capability to project power over long distances; advanced technologies must be harnessed so the United States can maintain its technological lead as long as possible, recognizing that other nations will continue to work hard to counter our capabilities; the ocean buffer must be controlled; and the homeland must be defended. TRANSLATION TO MATERIALS NEEDS Based on these presentations, the committee envisions new roles for advanced materials, including bio-inspired materials, self-assembling polymers, novel magnetic materials, and self-healing materials. Next-generation defense systems (or Defense After Next) will require “smart” materials that are self-healing, can interact independently with the local environment, and are capable of monitoring the health of a structure or component/system during operation. Smart materials

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will act as the host for evolving technologies, such as embedded sensors and integrated antennas. Advanced materials will also be called on to deliver traditional high performance for structures; protect against corrosion, fouling, and erosion; provide fire protection; control fractures; and be used as fuels, lubricants, and hydraulic fluids. Promising composite material technologies to meet these needs include carbon nanotubes, electron-beam curing, recyclable composite materials, and health-monitoring sensors. The next 20 years will present the materials community with daunting challenges and opportunities. The challenges will be derived from major changes in defense needs that have evolved in the aftermath of the Cold War, spurred by the accelerated pace of advances in electronics and computation. In the committee’s opinion, performance, life span, and maintainability goals will generally double in the next 20 to 25 years, and the requirements for producibility, cost, and availability will be twice as demanding as they are today. Advances in materials will be fundamental enablers for new capabilities to meet these needs. Some of the advances will result from R&D undertaken for competitive advantage by commercial enterprises. For example, substantial commercial funding is likely to be available for research in telecommunications and computation. In other technical areas, however, DOD may have to bear the funding burden directly. Logic dictates that in these special areas considerable funding for fundamental research will be necessary, not only for identifying critical new materials, but also for accelerating their progress through development to applications in deployed systems for the Defense After Next. Performance (of course) and cost will be major considerations. MATERIALS AND PROCESSES RESEARCH PRIORITIES Materials for the Defense After Next will have to be able to perform unique functions or combinations of functions. The committee identified several crosscutting issues that materials must address for successful applications in deployed systems. The committee expects that a combination of breakthroughs in long-established materials and new materials, or combinations thereof, will be necessary to address DOD system needs. Examples of these types of materials are shown in Box ES-1 . In addition, a number of adjunct materials properties that cut across materials classes would be desirable, if not absolutely necessary, for DOD systems. Although these properties would not, in and of themselves, lead to the selection of a particular material for a given application, they would be a consideration in that selection. Examples of these properties are listed in Box ES-2 .

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BOX ES-1 Material Types for Defense After Next lightweight materials that retain their functionality materials that enhance protection/survivability stealth materials electronic/photonic materials for high-speed communications sensor materials high-energy-density materials materials for improved propulsion technologies BOX ES-2 Crosscutting Materials Properties multifunctionality self-healing and/or self-diagnosing materials materials for low total-cost systems low-maintenance materials high-reliability materials environmentally conscious materials and processes Successful research in the broad classes of materials and process research enumerated above would have an impact on systems for Defense After Next only if a number of crosscutting issues are also addressed successfully ( Box ES-3 ). These issues must be considered concurrently with plans for research because the questions they raise will reveal the direction research should take.

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BOX ES-3 Crosscutting Issues design issues materials-by-design materials tailorability materials influence on development and deployment costs availability of a commercial alternative risk management manufacturing issues life-cycle issues FIVE TECHNICAL PANELS The study sponsor and NMAB plan to establish five technical panels, each of which will explore in depth opportunities in a given materials research area. The technical panels will be responsible for relating these discoveries to DOD needs. The relationship must be clear in principle but not necessarily in detail. Because new discoveries are in their infancy, the mindset of the committee (and the reader) must be optimistic expectation. The question to be answered is what the impact of successful R&D, in a given area, will be on future defense systems. The next question (which also applies to more developed technologies already identified by DOD) is how their application can be accelerated to meet DOD needs. Materials and process needs considered in the context of systems needs reveals several materials areas for which there are opportunities for major advances. Research areas can be grouped so they have sufficient overlap to ensure that all major areas are included. The committee identified five technical areas for these detailed studies: structural and multifunctional materials; energy and power materials; electronic and photonic materials; functional organic and hybrid materials; and bio-derived and bio-inspired materials. The organization of the panels by function will encourage technical experts to participate, which will be crucial to their success. Members must also include systems thinkers and manufacturing experts. Each panel will attempt to quantify the impact of new materials and processes and identify technical road blocks to their development.

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This interim report includes a discussion of DOD systems needs in Chapter 2 and research priorities for materials and processes in Chapter 3 . Chapter 4 contains a plan to relate the R&D priorities to the materials science challenges. As a whole, this report defines the general direction of future R&D. To facilitate the management of the technical panels, members of the study committee would provide the chair of each panel (and perhaps also the co-chair and panel members, as appropriate), subject to NRC approval. NMAB liaisons to the study committee will also serve as liaisons to the technical panels. Structural and Multifunctional Materials Panel A consistent theme in DOD’s system needs is the requirement for stronger, lighter, and stiffer materials that can meet increasingly stringent weight, mobility, and performance requirements. Other areas of need include higher temperature materials for improved performance. Merging multiple functions into a single material structure (e.g., structural member plus stealth) is another area for investigation. Energy and Power Materials Panel Many Defense After Next needs are related to power generation, energy harvesting, energy conversion and storage, and energy delivery and dissipation. A particularly important area of research will be the emerging issues of operations from greater distances, survivability, weight minimization, and environmental consciousness. Electronic and Photonic Materials Panel The emergence of the battlefield as a network of entities each of which is collecting, transmitting, and processing information in real time will place stringent demands on electronic and/or optical materials that can function securely at the required bandwidth. Sensors will be necessary to collect information to be processed and shared. Integrated microsystems that can move, sense, think, and act are also likely to be used in Defense After Next systems on the battlefield, for reconnaissance and/or in unmanned vehicles.

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Functional Organic and Hybrid Materials Panel The combination of requirements for minimal weight and maximum functionality could potentially be met by this class of materials. Attractive materials would be self-healing and/or self-diagnosing, including lightweight electronic, optical, sensing, and, perhaps, structural materials. Bio-derived and Bio-inspired Materials Panel This rapidly developing area will be of great interest for a variety of Defense After Next needs. These materials frequently offer weight advantages over their inorganic counterparts. If some functionalities, such as environmental responsivity or the capability of self-healing, could be introduced, these materials would be extremely attractive, as sensors, for example, or for dealing with chemical and biological agents. This class of materials is most likely to lead to advances in maintaining the health of soldiers—through wound healing, tissue engineering, drug delivery, and so forth. RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendation. Five technical panels should be established to address advances and challenges in materials science to meet twenty-first-century defense needs. The five technical panels should focus on the following areas: (1) structural and multifunctional materials; (2) energy and power materials; (3) electronic and photonic materials; (4) functional organic and hybrid materials; and (5) bio-derived and bio-inspired materials. Recommendation. Over the next 12 months, each panel should meet about four times to assess research priorities in its respective area. The panels should coordinate their work to ensure that all important research areas are covered. Recommendation. Based on the results of the panels’ assessments, the committee should integrate and prioritize the recommended research opportunities and recommend means of integrating materials and processing advances into new system designs.

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