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Frontiers in Crystalline Matter: From Discovery to Technology
Support for operations and technicians: DGCM activities are extremely labor intensive, requiring high levels of support for operations, including infrastructure maintenance, raw materials, and technical support. This support is justified on the programmatic level because the materials synthesized by principal investigators associated with a university center should be made available to a larger scientific cohort than that of a single principal investigator.
Specific courses in DGCM: For DGCM to be a bona fide intellectual endeavor—that is, embraced by university administrators and colleagues—it must support a curriculum by which future generations of DGCM researchers are trained.
Research programs as training grounds: While informal or postgraduate training can occur in national laboratories, as it did in industry, the formal aspect of DGCM training should occur in a university setting where synthetic projects are developed in the course of graduate work.
The discovery of new crystalline materials and the growth of single crystals with carefully tailored properties have very high scientific and technological impact. The convergence of technology streams and the rise of the global economy have resulted in major changes in the U.S. research landscape in this arena, leaving scientists and engineers in the United States severely constrained by inadequate supplies of crystals for scientific research and technology development. As a result, scientists and engineers in DGCM in the United States are at a competitive disadvantage compared to scientists and engineers in selected countries in Europe and Asia. Addressing this issue is important to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. Based on an analysis of the needs, along with the characteristics of the most effective practices in DGCM, the Committee for an Assessment of and Outlook for New Materials Synthesis and Crystal Growth has developed a series of recommendations to strengthen greatly the U.S. capability in the synthesis of new materials and crystal growth. The set of activities in the proposed approach would fit well within the mission of several agencies, including DOE, NSF, DOD, and DOC (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and is well matched to the anticipated growth in these programs under the authorized research funding increases to foster U.S. competitiveness.