synchrotron x-ray sources, neutron-scattering facilities, electron microscopes, and high magnetic field facilities. The availability of these leading-edge facilities offers U.S. scientists the opportunity to discover new science and to optimize crystalline materials for future technological applications, provided they have access to single-crystal samples of newly discovered material and large, high-quality single crystals for neutron scattering.

Discovery of new crystalline materials and growth of single crystals have been shown continually to be highly leveraged activities, yielding disproportionately large returns on investment while helping to address important national issues related to energy, information, transportation, national security, health, and other areas. As discussed in Chapter 1 (see the section entitled “Example of High-Temperature Superconductivity”), this leveraging recently was seen in the explosion of research following the discovery of high-transition temperature (Tc) superconductivity, which led to new metrologies and analysis capabilities that produce new fundamental science as well as to new modes for efficiently transporting energy. Similarly, this leveraging is illustrated historically by the growth of entire industries in the computer field, which were able to arise only after the DGCM community developed the capability to produce high-purity crystalline silicon and III-V compound semiconductors.

Today’s scientists and engineers in the United States are severely constrained by a research environment in which crystal supply is limited at a time when governments in selected countries in Asia and Europe have recognized the foundational importance of new materials and high-purity single crystals, and in some cases will not make them available for political reasons. In contrast to the current state of affairs in the United States, these countries are becoming much stronger in the discovery of important new materials and phenomena through strategic investments. It must be emphasized that if these trends continue, U.S. scientists, engineers, and industrial facilities either will become increasingly dependent on materials developed and grown outside the United States or will not have access to needed materials at all.


In this chapter, the Committee for an Assessment of and Outlook for New Materials Synthesis and Crystal Growth recommends ways to address the issues and opportunities identified in this report. Concerted efforts will be required from those engaged in DGCM research, from the educational and research institutions in which those efforts take place, and from those agencies that provide funds and other support for scientific research. Specifically, the committee believes that a comprehensive solution to providing future opportunities in the discovery and growth of crystalline materials in the United States should include the following elements:

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