Part 1
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research Part 1 HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research This page in the original is blank.

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research Advances in Materials Research and Development WILLIAM O.BAKER The unprecedented progress of science and engineering in the second half of the twentieth century has advanced many worthy goals—beginning with the defense of freedom—and has fostered understanding of the world, its inhabitants, and the cosmos. In this context, materials research and development stands out—both as a twentieth-century phenomenon and as an endeavor that bridges the often-disparate objectives of understanding nature and of ensuring freedom. This chapter describes, exemplifies, and analyzes various facets of the complex history and development of materials science and engineering both as a field of endeavor and as a national commitment that came into being in the late 1950s through the National Materials Program. Through this program, knowledge of matter has been augmented by new academic structures and by new connections of government and universities with industry and the national economy. A dominant theme throughout the chapter is the need for this nation to learn from and to apply the experiences of the national materials endeavor in addressing major scientific and technological issues in the coming decades. The inception of the National Materials Program illustrates one of the first, and best, examples of leadership by a chief of state in twentieth-century science and engineering; it was generated by President Eisenhower through the White House Office of Science and Technology and Science Advisory Committee. And, of course, the enterprise has even deeper roots: the great science faculties of Britain and Germany began to see, from classical physics and chemistry, from the optics of Newton, the ionics of Faraday, the radiation of Röntgen, the atom of Thompson, Aston, and Bohr—and through the

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research statistics and quantum mechanics in large assemblies of atoms and molecules—that solids and even liquids displayed some simplicities. Still other origins of the materials science and engineering enterprise lay in the ways in which some industrial laboratories and government centers, such as those developing atomic energy, had been able to purify and modify crystals and glasses to achieve new public and commercial capabilities. (These developments range from isotope matrices for nuclear energy to transistors and solar cells, to space vehicles and their reentry nose cones and capsules, to synthetic polymers like polyethylene—which could be adapted to displace metals for sheathing cables—to nylon and its fiber correlates. Other derivatives of advances in materials science and engineering include modern telecommunications and computers.) The circumstances of the 1940s and 1950s also led to a less tangible development—a bold surmise from the White House Science Office, in its earliest days, that some fields in twentieth-century science and technology should promise enough scientific lure and luster to stimulate the keenest minds and to motivate the most creative thinkers; at the same time, knowledge achieved in such fields would be immediately useful for technical, public purposes and commercial needs. In the late 1950s there was a very wide gulf between academic science and mathematics, as engendered by the great European traditions, and the engineering and technology of an inventive industrial era. This gap narrowed somewhat in a few urgent wartime projects such as the synthetic rubber program, which also supported the emerging proposition about coupling modern science and technology. Materials science and engineering could indeed bring together fundamental “knowledge for its own sake” and the compelling, restless demands of technology and manufacture. For we found with GR-S rubber, in the production of more than 700,000 tons of a new material within two years, that the sometime “odd couple” could be complementary and even reinforcing. But no one had said yet that it should be possible for an independent, pluralistic government of a free nation to so modify tradition that it could stimulate industrial and academic materials research and development by request of the national leadership. With helpful but modest use of federal funds, it could only be hoped that a new chapter in the creation and use of new knowledge would be written. And yet that is what happened. The 1974 report of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Survey of Materials Science and Engineering (COSMAT) showed the profound impact on U.S. and even world resources that the National Materials Program has had.1 Later studies, such as the analysis by Theodore H.Geballe on behalf of the National Science Foundation, and various related estimates of the intellectual appeal of condensed-matter science, have further established the existence of a worldwide conviction that new fundamentals of nature can now be discerned in condensed matter. Likewise we are seeing that the

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research engineering and manufacture of commercial products as well as the systems for national security and public service are gaining crucially from basic findings about matter and its synthesis. The dreams of President Eisenhower’s time are coming true. And today, when we have returned to old arguments (for example, whether there should be a single department of science in Washington) and new challenges, when as a debtor nation we must compete vastly better against the products and innovations of a smartening world, it is wise to review our progress in materials science and engineering. We need to assess the national materials endeavor, and to reconsider its origins as a reference for future decisions. For in this and other fields, we should confer on what we ought to take care about as we face new and unexpected conditions on the planet. Accordingly, the experience with the National Materials Program continues to yield insights applicable to decisions about where we could and should go in the coming decades of pluralistic academic, governmental, and industrial science and technology. Noteworthy qualities of this program can be discerned in its beginnings, in its progress, and in the assumptions and premises underlying it. ORIGINS OF NATIONWIDE SOLID-STATE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING The impetus for developing a national program followed by some years the origins of materials research and development that took place in independent laboratories. The impetus for the program was found in a national opportunity for federal agencies concerned with weapons systems, rocket propulsion, nuclear reactors, spaceflight and reentry, as well as materials conservation and supply. Also, there had arisen postwar needs for a common base of research and development that could accommodate the needs of civilian services and industrial activity (through the National Bureau of Standards) and those of education and basic science (through the National Science Foundation). Conviction of the values of a national program in materials science and engineering had already come from the surging growth in solid-state science and technology, largely in industrial laboratories from which came the transistor, the solar cell, new polymers, high-performance metals and alloys, and the rudimentary composites. This conviction intensified with the stirrings of interest in the far horizons of understanding condensed matter, for example, through the work of Eugene Wigner, Frederick Seitz, and William Conyers Herring in physics, and of C.P.Smyth in chemistry, at Princeton. Usable theory was forthcoming from Seitz’s continued research at Carnegie Mellon and Illinois, from the wartime-stimulated interests and expert pedagogy of J.C.Slater at MIT, and from J.H.Van Vleck at Harvard.

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research FIGURE 1 Schematic of relations of materials science and engineering to global resources and uses of matter. From the National Academy of Sciences.1 Solid-state work was not devoted to a single objective or goal, although, like the Manhattan Project, GR-S Program, Apollo Program, or National Cancer Plan, it assumed that science and engineering could work together in unprecedented intimacy. But further, science and engineering would support each other, as described in the COSMAT study (Figures 1 and 2). When the time for federal focus came, the procedures of the National Materials Program (represented especially but not by any means exclusively in the university Materials Research Laboratories [see Schwartz, in this volume]), consisted of institutional unions of unprecedented scope. Yet those program efforts are the basis for the process that we would like to see extended widely in the times ahead. They have united academic and industrial scientists and engineers in joint actions, as foreseen in the Synthetic Rubber Program. They have united a community of users and makers of materials in industrial factories, government contract agencies (especially the Department of Defense), and the whole range of American industry from mining to molding. The program has united teaching and research in extraordinary ways through the interdisciplinary character of the effort. (The uniting of physics, chemistry, mathematics, mechanics, and other engineering fields in novel forms is a task yet uncompleted.) The materials work has united components and materials engineers with systems and electrical and mechanical engineers in unique ways. Here we have only to recall that materials science and engineering, whose early expression in the transistor and the solar cell would soon be succeeded by satellites, new intercontinental cable systems, and

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research aircraft designs involving novel metals and alloys, now also supports super composites and digital computers and switches. Materials science and engineering provide light guides and composites for prosthetic parts in the human body, and ceramics for gas turbines. Thus, the materials era has dramatically advanced both design and performance engineering in a union not imaginable until only a decade or two ago. I submit that materials science and engineering are already historic for these new combinations, which is the most important validation of that early surmise of the White House Science Office—that such unions, together with the nature of learning, would bring about an unprecedented speed of conversion of scientific discovery into technologic innovation and commercial and public production. This, too, has happened in electronics, now photonics, in rocketry, and in major refractory structures made of composites. We hope that it will extend into many other competitive and economically decisive domains, including automobiles, buildings, and public facilities. I believe this strategy is the prescription this country needs for regaining primacy in international trade, in technology, in armaments, in learning, and in quality of living, because it contains sound guidance for the role of science and engineering in those larger and compelling national issues. At this time FIGURE 2 Interconnections of physical and life sciences related to engineering, showing the major role of solid matter.

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research in the advance of science and technology we must find larger values, which involve new ways of thinking and of working and of combining our institutions. That is exactly what we have been fortunate enough, in the era of solid-state science—of materials science and engineering—to do and to assess. ISSUES EVOLVING FROM ENLARGED MATERIALS TECHNOLOGY Derivatives of the research and engineering concept embodied in the Interdisciplinary Laboratories (IDL)/Materials Research Laboratories (MRL) program continue to be instructive. Thus, George A.Keyworth II, President Reagan’s Science Advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, refers to the Engineering Research Centers organized by the National Science Foundation as “the single most important thing that we’ve done as an Administration in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of federal R&D dollars.”2 He said the centers address a widely recognized need in various fields of science and technology: Continued pushing of the frontiers in those fields was constrained by the difficulty of assembling multidisciplinary teams to work on the problems. Our universities are, justifiably and understandably, structured to pursue disciplinary research. On the other hand, we increasingly find ourselves as a nation confronting the solving of problems that have technically based solutions. We need to expose our young people to a problem-solving environment…. These Centers—I’d rather call them Science and Technology Centers—are multidisciplinary mechanisms by which chemists, physicists, neurobiologists, engineers, etc., can get together and solve exciting, intellectually demanding, real-world problems.2 These and other comments about the economic potential of the Engineering Research Centers are almost word-for-word descriptions of the original interdisciplinary laboratories of the National Materials Program. Thus, it is refreshing indeed to find such current agreement on the concept that has involved so significant a portion of our best academic talent. The national commitment set in motion by President Eisenhower’s call has other facets besides historic industrial and academic gains in materials science and engineering, both within and beyond the federal program. For instance, in the conservation and supplying of strategic materials, we have learned that national security depends heavily on integrated provision of processing and products coming from a host of minerals and related natural sources. We now have synthetic analogs for natural materials ranging from natural rubber to diamonds and platinum. This by no means suggests that we have efficient substitutes for all materials crucial to defense and a viable civilian economy. Rather, we have learned the degrees of alternatives that can be used and how to balance designs, processes, and basic materials

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research properties with skills whose acquisition alone would justify the modest federal investments in all of our materials research and development. Indeed, there are many dimensions to such a context. On the one hand, we respect the frustration of Richard A.Reynolds, new director of the Defense Sciences Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), regarding materials research priorities. Dr. Reynolds notes sparse funding of federal research on “growth of critical electronic materials,” and says, “Furthermore, the United States is losing its international competitive edge with respect to the technology base necessary to support materials self-sufficiency in the manufacture of these man-made strategic materials.”3 In that case, his concerns could have extended beyond semiconductors and integrated-circuit ceramic substrates and the like. He has accurately perceived that the pervasiveness of materials science and engineering in our national and industrial programs does diffuse responsibility, as expected. And in this sense, the new academic centers for study of high-speed integrated circuits, quantum-well semiconductor systems discovered in industrial laboratories, and novel compositions of organic and ionic qualities have shown the need for major new characterization facilities such as synchrotron and neutron radiation sources. Hence others, mostly in industry, must take responsibility for the materials development and leadership that he is properly calling for. But from another perspective, a recent book, entitled Lost at the Frontier,4 presents one of the most stimulating and critical of many current commentaries about American science and engineering research and development. The senior author is a distinguished materials scientist and engineer, Rustum Roy. The book should remind us that the original precepts of the National Materials Program recognized the need to maintain progress in established fields, such as integrated circuits, ceramics, and other materials identified as priorities by Dr. Reynolds and DARPA. But these original precepts also heeded the larger issues raised in the critique by Shapley and Roy. These authors recognize astutely that the scientific and technical community also has wide responsibility to act with a degree of professionalism and intellectual performance concordant with the high calling from a chief of state, or from a supportive nation. While messages such as those of Dr. Reynolds need to be considered— and we should note that many of his materials colleagues throughout the Department of Defense are also saying that more ought to be done—the issue is, What more should be done? What more must be done to enable materials science and engineering to fulfill new roles in contributing to the social and economic welfare of the nation? For this is what was intended in the White House initiatives. The National Materials Program was designed for the performance of science and technology in new ways. Industrial ingenuity, time-honored disciplines of academic discovery, the urgent technical requirements for national security, and the overriding need for human talents

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research would be combined to meet the needs and potentialities of the twentieth century. The drafters of this program for the president in 1958 already knew that such expectations were justified and attainable. The practical origins of the solid-state era had already produced major gains from mutual feedback of technology and science in crystal growth, purification, semiconductor doping and synthesis, and adaptation of polymers as new structural and insulating materials. For example, the development of high-frequency electronics for radar and microwaves had stimulated extensive and critical use of silicon and germanium point-contact diodes; the work of Scaff and his associates5 and other studies at Purdue University and elsewhere had produced relatively satisfactory materials whose purity and quality could have been further refined by continued detailed pursuit of recognized technology. But the goal of 1015 or fewer foreign atoms per cubic centimeter in a single crystal was so far outside of that conventional pathway that it was spoken of only with a mixture of awe and humor. However, William G.Pfann, then a technologist involved in learning science, sensed that the phase rule worked in all directions. Through his zone-refining method, he achieved both the purity and perfection needed in semiconductor materials, thus opening simultaneously for academic and industrial application an epoch of purity and regularity in matter not two or three times but orders of magnitude greater than had been available. Similarly, investigators at the time saw in the chemical and petrochemical laboratories at Du Pont, Phillips Petroleum, and Union Carbide and in the academic work of Ziegler and co-workers and of Natta and Pasquon,6 A.Morton at MIT, M.Morton at Akron, and others, that when appropriate characterization showed that the qualities required for polymers could be achieved in theory, chemical control could achieve those qualities in practice. For instance, by this pathway polyethylene could replace lead, which is both costly and ecologically sensitive, in the cables supplying electricity and communications around the world. It should be recalled that these and a few other projects were also subjects of intense technical development in earlier decades. The new industrial tactic, which caused the change, was to combine science and engineering—to promote the interdisciplinary interactions of mechanics and chemistry, of physics and metallurgy. Pfann’s work reduced the characteristic content of dislocations in metallic and semimetallic crystal surfaces from about 3.5 million per square centimeter to near zero. And on the way, the mechanical trauma of even 1,000 dislocations per square centimeter could be tracked. Even with the historic purity of less than 1017 carbon atoms per cubic centimeter of silicon, the solid showed more than five times the stress at yield that a typical “pure” specimen would show. These and many other signals made clear that mobilization of a new national materials effort would affect vast technical capabilities. But even in

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research the strength of matter, dominated by dislocation movements, challenge still lies ahead. A current study at the Battelle Memorial Institute finds that the fracture of matter and efforts to contain it now cost the United States no less than $119 billion per year. Even the appropriate basic categorizations of overload, brittle fracture, ductile rupture, fatigue, creep, creep rupture, stress corrosion, threading fatigue, thermal shock, buckling, and delamination require more specific scientific description than has yet been applied. The move toward automated manufacture and robotics processing of materials even accents the ignorance of these factors. As noted below, the appropriate control of dislocations may even provide new networks of conductivity and electronic and photonic responses in suitable crystals. RECOGNITION OF NEW FRONTIERS Along with these signals of need, there are signals of knowledge, perhaps as beckoning and as rich with meaning as those once heralding the solid-state and materials endeavors themselves. In polymers, we have long known, and technically and scientifically applied, the close coexistence of ordered and disordered phases. Indeed, a single chain can indulge in both, and many do. Whole classes of important materials, such as the Arnel fiber of Celanese Corporation, came from appropriate adjustment of lateral and longitudinal states of order, in that case, in cellulose triacetate. Annealing and heat treatment affecting such order are crucial factors in the performance of nearly all microcrystalline synthetic fibers, plastics, and films. However, we have been rightly charmed by the beauty and utility of traditional crystallography. Only recently, computer-assisted study of aluminum alloyed with minor components of manganese, iron, and chromium has shown an icosahedral structure imputing 5-fold symmetry. This, of course, displaces atom groupings from the expected unit-cell behavior. On 29 July 1984, Japanese workers reported in the Physical Review Letters about a nickel-chromium alloy that in electron diffraction by small particles seems to exhibit a 12-fold symmetry. This they interpreted as a dodecagon, which indeed would conform to an intermediate structure between the disorder of glass and the regularity of a crystal. Reexamination of what were termed anomalous diffraction patterns of an aluminum-manganese-silicon alloy from AT&T Bell Laboratories offers a complementary example, where a unit cell would require thousands of atoms, but currently can best be interpreted as icosahedral arrays within such “unit cell.” In India similar icosahedra seem to have been formed in magnesium-zinc-aluminum alloys by rapid cooling. There is also the report of a sheet structure with 10-fold symmetry within the sheet, but a periodic stacking of the sheets themselves. The point is that conventional structure practices are not really sophisticated enough to deal with the growing diversity of materials science and engi-

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research FIGURE 3 Loss of light transmission in decibels per kilometer of various factors in graded-index silica fibers, as a function of wavelength in nanometers. Hyperpure fibers have even half or a quarter of the absorption depicted. In this pure state, silica transmits 1.2- to 1.6-micron-wavelength photons so well that there is an attenuation of less than 0.15 decibel per kilometer. However, silica-fiber light guides must stay pure, stable, and without significant hydration, since hydroxyl groups degrade their light-carrying ability (Figure 3). Therefore, through still other techniques of materials science and engineering, a composite is formed by deposition of selected and exquisitely controlled polymer films on the silica fiber as it is drawn. The resulting fibers, properly extruded and coated, have strengths far beyond the best fiberglass—a tenacity approaching 0.8 to 1 million pounds per square inch (psi) (Figure 4). Although still short of the 10.5 giganewtons per square meter (1.5 million psi) in a single, idealized silica solid, the tensile strength of modern optical fibers nevertheless approaches the ideal envisioned by Games Slater, the inventor of fiberglass. It is hardly surprising that the skills that make composites of silica with micron dimensions and overlayers of polymers lead one to composites in bulk. These materials are finding new uses in rockets, motor vehicles, boats, and houses. But then, if our themes hold, the combinations of science and engineering intrinsic to materials programs and cultures should induce still other earth-

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research matter advances. Carbon is ubiquitous, not just as 1016 atoms per cubic centimeter in hyperpure silicon, but as a chemical chameleon of the earth’s materials. In various forms, carbon provides the major substance of life. In trees and plants its cellulosic form is the basis of tools and buildings, and carbon is the essence of most synthetic polymeric materials. It is the basis for combustible fuels, and, in its elementary form, it is even more spectacular as brightest diamond and darkest graphite. How have the interaction of materials science and engineering and the intimate connections between research and application led to new carbon materials? The present response is polymer carbon, which can be pyrolyzed FIGURE 4 Distribution of tensile strengths of pure silica fibers, showing (in solid circles) precise control over 20-meter spans, with somewhat less consistency when characterized over kilometer spans.

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research FIGURE 5 Representative effects of controlled oxidation and eventual pyrolysis on cross-linked hydrocarbon polymers, yielding refractory, and also very rigid, forms of polymer carbon. These can be used in composites of high strength and elastic modulus. to various stages of cross-linked or polymer carbon conversion (Figure 5). The science of polymer carbon formation quickly produced fibers, and also spheres in which it was first studied, with a modulus of rigidity so high that it stirred thoughts of diamond structures. It also stimulated early experiments on how it would behave in place of the classic silicate or fiberglass reinforcement in matrices of casting polymer composites, where it has played a large role in structural uses. This composite evolution was already under way, quite apart from the original polymer carbon research. By 1947 the filament-wound glass composite rocket motor case had been successfully flown, and the associated industrial contractors supported the Navy’s decision

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research to use fiberglass motor cases for the Polaris missiles. Composites have since served in successive generations of rockets, reducing weight and providing strength and durability (Figure 6). Recently, makers of these composites have found that so-called graphite fiber, actually a polymer-carbon filament composite, outperforms other materials, including fiberglass composites. Using carbon filament instead of traditional metals for a rocket case can increase the range of a ballistic missile by about 600 miles (Figure 7). In the Trident II, for instance, polymer-fiber composites are used in motor parts, motor cases, and indeed throughout the missile system. Fiber strengths in the last few years have doubled and are expected to approach a million pounds per square inch even as the modulus of rigidity remains superlative. Of course, the promise of future progress exists in systems other than those now known. In systems yielding polymer carbons, copolymers were originally identified with silicon and other elements. These can be converted to novel carbon ceramics, whose properties are beginning to be discussed in various parts of the materials community. On yet another front, chemists and physicists interested in the process of polymer carbon formation recognized that extensive conjugation of the bonds occurs inside the polymer molecules. Accordingly, a wide span of electrical conductivity was produced. This phenomenon has led to practical applications in lightning arresters, resistor components, and various other devices. In turn, it has also engendered widespread study of other organic conductors such as the charge-transfer agents and their doped derivatives. By 1960, Herbert A.Pohl, then at Princeton University, had dealt extensively with doping of many of these conjugated structures. Thus, stage by stage, this FIGURE 6 Examples of the growth of fibrous composites in rocket cases and motors, since mid century. From Hercules Corporation.

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research FIGURE 7 Increase in range of typical ballistic missiles through the use of polymer carbon composite materials, with attendant weight saving and efficiency. From Hercules Corporation. admirable cumulative feature of materials science and engineering has expanded horizons in exceedingly diverse and long-unconnected areas of study, ranging from delicate microcircuitry to massive structures for power and transport. SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES IN ATOMIC AND MOLECULAR STATE CHANGES In a different context, other signals are arising. Hans Frauenfelder and E. Shyamsunder at the University of Illinois propose “protein quakes,” in which macromolecular mechanical waves dissipate energy from the fission of myoglobin-iron when photochemically cut from carbon monoxide or oxygen molecules. Their postulates of glass-like relaxation converge with the wide-spectrum relaxation phenomena observed in polymers and identified decades ago with the single molecules themselves in ultrahigh-frequency shear and compressional studies. Frontiers in materials science and engineering dynamics are steadily being added to the equilibrium and conventional chemical kinetic qualities, already providing productive links between basic science and materials technology. These findings bear heavily, of course, on the basic behavior of phase change, melting, and other processing properties. But again the new dimensions are

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research striking, and again the interactions of technology, such as the annealing of semiconductor surfaces after ion implantation to restore order, as practiced by Soviet and Italian workers since 1977, have induced more scientific probes of pulsed laser heating. M.Downer, R.Fork, and C.Shank in AT&T’s Holmdel Laboratories have been using 8-femtosecond pulses to generate an electron-hole plasma, which then shifts energy to lattice vibration. This phenomenon, in turn, has recently been studied using Raman scattering of photons. Findings indicated more than simple melting. J.VanVechten at IBM, and later, others, elaborated on the studies as the pulse times decreased to below the picosecond range. By the early 1980s a dozen or more distinguished solid-state and materials centers were pursuing this central question of the mechanism of melting. The femtosecond pulse frequency coupled with reflectivity studies currently demonstrates that a liquid is formed even in the presence of the plasma, and altogether new aspects of liquefaction are appearing. PATTERNS FOR FURTHER ACTION—EXTENSIONS OF EARLY INITIATIVE Diverse examples support the conclusion that the 25 years of detailed attention given to materials research and engineering through the National Materials Program has achieved an unprecedented and unsurpassed interaction of science and technology. This interaction appears in research and development in universities and industries and through conscientious government. Such communion has occurred in ways that permit us to build for the future and on a scale that other nations, intensifying their competition in traditional forms, have not yet adopted. Even the large government-industrial organizations supported by the Department of Defense, and to a lesser extent, the Department of Energy and NASA, for materials research and development are small in relation to the total national commitment in materials, as noted in the COSMAT report. Yet the sharing of knowledge from the federal stimulus is large and can be larger still. This is the special message of the National Materials Program. It may be useful to recall the particular conditions that led to the National Materials Program and what was expected of it. Its current vitality was demonstrated at the 1985 fall meeting of the Materials Research Society (MRS) in Boston, where there were no fewer than 16 symposia, each representing a combination of other scientific society sponsors. The MRS itself played an invaluable professional role by sponsoring sessions on frontiers of materials research and on materials education. Indeed, the growth and quality of the MRS attest to the vigorous response of materials investigators and institutions to the call that went out in 1960 and give cause to believe that

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research similar calls for scientific and technical achievement today could likewise be expected to succeed. On the basis of 25 years of experience with the National Materials Program, let us finally look at the pertinent features that propelled it. We should imagine how the next challenges might be phrased if we expect such materials as the high-strength composite structures, unbreakable ceramics, continuous surfaces, and incorruptible metallics to realize their potentials. The impetus for the National Materials Program was expressed in a short paper of 18 March 1958 from the White House Science Office (see Appendix to this chapter). That paper reflected the pressing interests of those times and also represented a certain coalition that included this author, as member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC), and a member of its staff. The paper underscored the need for information centers, which only now are being realized through the new general programs and publications of the MRS, and a few other professional societies, led especially by the American Chemical Society. There was even a paragraph on facilities, including a number of items that then cost no less than $20,000 each! It was said that both those items and buildings had to be supported. At about the same time, in 1958, PSAC completed a report entitled Strengthening American Science.8 It was not submitted to the President until December 1958, but its invention of the Federal Council for Science and Technology had been in planning during the latter half of that year. The report itself argued for more work on what was still classically known as “metals and materials.” We cast doubt on a very fashionable and popular topic of those times, and one which has arisen repeatedly since. It is the notion of a separate set of institutes for materials science and engineering. Rather, the notion of university participation was forcefully injected into the thinking. Then, as the main outcome of the report, the Federal Council for Science and Technology was implemented on 13 March 1959 by an Executive Order of President Eisenhower. It was activated just two weeks later when James R.Killian, the first chairman of the Federal Council for Science and Technology and the first Special Assistant to the President for those functions, appointed a Coordinating Committee on Materials Research and Development, chaired by John W.Williams, Director of the Division of Research of the Atomic Energy Commission. We pursued the diligent, and by no means silent, doings of that body so that by 11 July 1960 we received an official communique from the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense (which we had designated as the responsible body) saying that “the Department of Defense portion of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory Program has been initiated.” Much of the operating philosophy, which was then accepted, had been summarized in our letter to Dr. Kelman of 10 June 1960. By July 16 the press had described the designation of the first three universities holding

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research contracts for interdisciplinary materials research and development. The New York Times account of this action said, “The process by which this decision was reached illustrates the workings of the policy-making machinery built up in the past few years to coordinate the nation’s scientific effort. It also illustrates the time that can elapse between a recognized need and action.” Nevertheless, Cornell University, Northwestern University, and the University of Pennsylvania were moving into action. But files of that time reveal that in his formal notes, President Kennedy had further discussed the onset of the National Materials Program in the fall of 1961, when he appeared in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina. All of these documents emphasize not only the multispecialty, or what we may call polybasic research features, but also a particular ethos of the National Materials Program. Some of this is summarized in a letter I wrote as a member of PSAC to Dr. Kelman on 10 June 1960: Much of this present federal support outside the National Science Foundation is paid for on the fictional premise that it yields a specific weapons system, irrigation plant, health measure, space vehicle, or the like. This not only deludes the public and the government administrator, but also degrades the university…. A properly coordinated materials program would not require narrow, synthetic, justifications of university study. There would be acceptable probability that the free choice of the investigator would nevertheless advance some phase of needed engineering or procurement. Likewise, there would be important relief of the pressures on individual professors to attach their own studies to the particular project that has the push and the cash at some moment, regardless of its long term scientific values…. It is not yet widely recognized that the materials research and development have a basic generality and thus new knowledge derived from them is almost immediately applicable to an extraordinary range of needs. In this situation, actions of the Federal Council for Science and Technology and specifically those of the Coordinating Committee can be of great value to the national efficiency and economy. Indeed, without such coordinating action it now appears difficult to see how there could be a followup of the original objectives of the Coordinating Committee noted in the minutes of April 8, 1959.9 That program is a major realization of the overall conclusion of the report Strengthening American Science. In this report we said, “The endless frontiers of science, now stretching to the stars, can provide rich opportunities for men to seek a common understanding of the natural forces which all men must obey, and which govern the world in which all men must live together.”8 Advancing materials research and development takes a new but expected shape as we look forward to the next quarter century of materials science and engineering. We and others have recorded in scientific and technical detail the particular vanguard of innovation that we should seek and expect. But we can now add another dimension to the advance. It is that new links among the traditional divisions of science and engi-

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research neering can be formed to advance a domain of knowledge and practice, namely, solid-state science and materials technology. The resulting network can mobilize actions in education, industry, and government far beyond the size of the nucleating effort. In contrast to major programs like the Manhattan Project, the Apollo Program, or the National Cancer Plan, this network does not represent collaboration for a specific goal or mission. Rather it is the generation of a technical capability that applies to nearly every feature of economics and public affairs. The National Materials Program constitutes a precious American resource of more than a million people devoted to scientific and engineering research and development to advance materials science and technology. It responds to the national need put forward by President Eisenhower in the 1950s. It combines new and once-separate realms of learning and practice and is slowly recasting age-old academic habits. It is intrinsic in industrial and governmental programs to achieve automation of design and process. It is basic to the growth of new technical capabilities such as photonics, bioengineering support and repair of human organs, exploration of space and the oceans, and preservation of the environment. Most of all it is a worthy exercise of the mind. A national program in materials science and engineering is a new venture in this century of science and technology. Today, almost everything mankind has tried to do with matter through the million years of human evolution can be done not just two or three times better but, through materials science and engineering, a thousand or a thousand thousand times better than we once thought possible. NOTES 1.   National Academy of Sciences, Committee on the Survey of Materials Science and Engineering, Materials and Man’s Needs, Summary Report (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1974). 2.   Science and Government Report 15 (18), 4 (1985). 3.   R.A.Reynolds, Science 226 (4674), 494 (1984). 4.   D.Shapley and R.Roy, Lost at the Frontier (ISI Press, Philadelphia, 1985). 5.   J.H.Scaff and R.S.Ohl, Bell Sys. Tech. J. 26, 1 (1947); J.H.Scaff, H.C.Theurer, and E.E.Schumacher, J.Metals Trans. AIME 185, 383 (1949); W.G.Pfann and J.H. Scaff, ibid. 389 (1949). 6.   K.Ziegler, E.Holzkamp, H.Breil, H.Martin, Angew. Chem. 67, 541 (1955); G.Natta and I. Pasquon, Adv. Catal. 9, 1 (1959). 7.   H.C.Theurer, J.Electrochem. Soc. 107, 29 (1960). 8.   President’s Science Advisory Committee, Strengthening American Science (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1958). 9.   William O.Baker, letter to Robert Kelman, President’s Science Advisory Committee, 10 June 1960 (unpublished).

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research Appendix COORDINATING MATERIALS RESEARCH IN THE UNITED STATES Background paper prepared by the staff of The President’s Science Advisory Committee 18 March 1958 Research and development in the field of materials is closely related to the missions and activities of a number of Federal agencies. Unique environmental conditions associated with rocket propulsion, nuclear reactors, space flight, and vehicle re-entry, have established the need for materials which are not currently available. There have been many clever engineering designs which have allowed some progress to be made but these designs have not diminished the urgent need for materials research and development. The use of ablation materials and heat-sinks have allowed progress in high temperature structures. The use of strip-wrap construction for rocket casings and the use of honeycomb structural panels have increased the strength to weight ratio for structures involved in space flight. Yet all of these have meant increases in complexity and cost which would not have been required if new and better materials already existed. During the last decade significant advances have been made in the sciences of solids. The effect of impurities and surface conditions on physical properties has been partially established. Very pure materials have approached those predicted by calculations of binding energies. Samples of ceramics which are normally brittle have shown ductile properties when prepared under very closely controlled conditions. There is a general feeling, therefore, that such advances in science as these can lead to a technology of materials engineering quite different from the metallurgy, ceramics, and polymer technology of today. But to achieve this result it will be necessary to begin to relate the new fundamental knowledge of matter to the behavior of highly complex materials. This in turn will require scientists and engineers from many different disciplines—organic chemistry, physical chemistry, metallurgy, and solid-state physics—to associate their special knowledge and different points of view. While problems of high temperature materials, and materials having a high strength to weight ratio, are very urgent matters for Federal agencies, they are of little significance in the civilian economy today. It thus becomes clear that the Federal Government will have to play a leading role in encouraging the research and development which is needed. Most of the agencies represented on the Federal Council have laboratories engaged in materials research and development, and also sponsor such work in universities and industry. A careful coordination of research and applied science programs

OCR for page 1
Advancing Materials Research among the various agencies can thus increase the effectiveness of the total program. In a situation characterized by a shortage of manpower well-grounded in solid state physics, physical chemistry and crystallography, one naturally turns to the university where funds produce not only the needed research but trained manpower as well. In various universities one finds the faculties engaged in planning interdepartmental efforts to establish a new materials science and engineering. One of their problems is the lack of buildings and equipment. There are many research tools such as electron microscopes, electron diffraction units, high temperature furnaces, and x-ray diffraction units, each of which represents a cost of approximately $20,000. In assisting the universities to do more research and to train more first-rate personnel some way must be found to provide support for interdepartmental and interdisciplinary groups, to provide funds for equipment and buildings, and to assure reasonable continuity of support. In addition, there is a need to define objectives which are suitable for the academic environment. It is extremely important that, whenever possible, engineering departments of universities be supported in the applied science aspects of materials in order that the basic work may have a practical significance as soon as possible. It is also worthwhile to explore the possibility of an information center which would publish information on the latest research and development accomplishments which are of real significance. Such a center could also serve to coordinate the exchange of samples of known purity and physical properties. The attention to university programs for research and education is of great importance but is only one step in a program to strengthen our national effort in materials. The many Government laboratories, private research institutes, and industrial laboratories also have significant roles to play. Perhaps the Federal Council can aid in planning a well-coordinated program based on the unique capabilities of these various laboratories and institutions, both public and private.