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CHAPTER II Executive Summary SOCIETAL BENEFITS FROM CHEMISTRY Chemistry provides fundamental understandings needed to deal with many societal needs, including many that determine our quality of life and our economic strength. New Processes The U.S. chemical industry has a current $12 billion positive balance of trade. Continued competitiveness depends upon constant improvement of existing processes and introduction of new ones. Advances in chemical catalysis and synthesis will be key to maintaining our current position of world leadership. (See Section ITI-A.) More Energy Ninety-two percent of our present energy consumption is based upon chemical technologies; this will remain true well into the 21st century. However, new chemistry-based energy sources will have to be tapped. They will include low-grade fuels for which better control of chemical reactivity is needed so that we can protect the environment while providing energy at reasonable cost. (See Section ITI-B.) New Materials The next two decades will bring many changes in the materials we use, including the materials in which we are clothed, housed, and transported. Chemistry will play an increasingly vital role in this interdisciplinary field because advances will depend upon ability to tailor new substances, including polymers, to replace and outperform traditional or scarce materials. (See Section ITI-C.) 6

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY More Food To increase world food supply, we need improvements in the production and preservation of food, soil conservation, and the use of photosynthesis. In collaboration with contiguous disciplines, chemistry plays a central role as we seek to clarify in detail the chemistry of biological life cycles. Once clarified they can be nurtured and controlled, while undesired side effects are avoided through chemical identification and synthesis of hormones, growth regulators, phero- mones, self-defense structures, and nutrients. (See Section {V-A.) Better Health All life processes birth, growth, reproduction, aging, mutation, death are manifestations of chemical change. Chemistry is now poised to clarify such complex biological processes at the molecular level. Hence it is making important contributions to physiology and medicine through rational drug design and, then, through synthesis of new compounds that promote health and alleviate specific ailments such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, cancer, and disorders of the central nervous and immune systems. (See Section TV-B.) Biotechnologies Remarkable progress made in recent years by molecular biologists and biochemists in genetic engineering has been built upon basic chemical princi- ples that determine the chemical structures and functional relationships between molecules and supermolecules (proteins, DNA) within biological systems. Full realization of the potentialities of the projected new biotechnol- ogies will increasingly depend upon molecular-level understandings. Chem- ists will be active collaborators in the progress toward this goal. (See Section {V-C.) Better Environment . A mayor contemporary concern is protecting the environment in the face of increasing world population, urbanization, and rising standards of living. Elective strategies for safeguarding our surroundings require that we know what's there, where it came from, and what we can do about it. Chemistry lies at the heart of the answers to each of these questions: it can provide analytical techniques that give early warning of emerging problems, recognition of their origins, and access to alternative products and processes to ameliorate undesired impacts. (See Section V-A.) Continued Economic Competitiveness The value of U.S. chemical sales is near $175 billion, and we have a positive balance of trade. Preservation of our quality of life depends significantly upon 7

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8 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY maintaining this position of leadership. Our future competitiveness will be dependent upon staying in the vanguard as the frontiers of chemistry change and upon supplying to industry a stream of talented young scientists who have been working at these frontiers and using state-of-the-art instrumentation. (See Section V-B.) Increased National Security Key factors underlying national security are a healthy populace and a dynamic, productive economy. In both spheres, chemistry plays an essential role. In addition, the nation must be able to deter armed conflict. Again, chemistry is a vital contributor; it enters all areas of defense from propulsion, weapons materials, and classical munitions to the most advanced strategic concepts. (See Section V-C.) INTELLECTUAL FRONTIERS IN CHEMISTRY Fortunately, this is a time of intellectual ferment in chemistry deriving from our increasing ability to probe and understand the elemental steps of chemical change and, at the same time, to deal with molecular complexity. Powerful instrumental techniques are a crucial dimension. We can anticipate exciting discoveries on a number of frontiers of chemistry. Chemical Kinetics Over the next three decades, we will see advances in our understanding of chemical kinetics that will match those connected with molecular structures over the last three decades. Lasers by themselves have spectacularly expanded experimental horizons for chemists. They can now probe chemical reactions on a time scale that is short compared to the lifetime of any transient substances that can be said to possess a molecular identity. Elementary reactions can be dissected, first, through detailed control of energy content of reactants and, then, through discrimination of energy distribution and recoil geometry among the products. Pathways for energy movement between and within molecules can now be experimentally tracked and theoretically resolved. These new avenues of study will clarify the factors that govern temporal aspects of chemical change. (See Section IlI-D.) Chemical Theory Chemistry is on the verge of a renaissance because of emerging ability to fold experiment and theory together to design chemical structures with properties of choice. With today's computers, accurate calculations can clarify transient situations not readily accessible to experimental measurements, such as inter- mediate steps in combustion processes. In some cases benefitting from the power of computers, theoretical understandings are developing across chemistry, including dynamics of reactive collisions, electron transfer reactions in solu-

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY tion, and statistical mechanical descriptions of the liquid state. (See Section III-D.) Catalysis Developing insights fueled by an array of powerful instrumentation are now moving catalysis from an art to a science. It is now possible to "see" molecules as they react on catalytic surfaces. Metal-organic compounds with purposeful steric specificity and reactivity can be prepared. Organic molecules with predetermined surface conformations that simulate enzymatic architectures can be synthesized. Coherence is appearing that encompasses surface, solution, electrochemical, photochemical, and enzymatic catalysis. Fundamental ad- vances in these various facets of catalysis are forthcoming that will have great economic and technological impact. (See Sections III-A, III-B, V-D.) Materials Modern experimental techniques and chemical principles now permit system- atic chemical strategies for discovery and design of novel materials. Hence, chemists are increasingly joining and expanding the specialist communities concerned with glasses, ceramics, polymers, alloys, and refractory materials. Coming years wit] see entirely new structural materials, liquids with orientational regularity, self-organizing solids, organic and ionic conductors, acentric and refractory materials. Chemists will have a central position on the most dramatic frontier of materials science, the design of molecular-scale memory and electrical circuit devices. (See Sections III-C, V-B, V-D.) Synthesis Modern instrumental techniques greatly facilitate discovery and testing of new reaction pathways and synthetic strategies. Our accelerating progress, which extends from invention of new families of inorganic compounds to the synthesis of ever-more complex organic structures, is erasing the border between inorganic and organic chemistry. Reactivity control in metal-organic molecules can now be achieved through insightful choice of molecular append- ages; new soluble catalysts will result. Molecules with metal atom clusters at their cores can be synthesized to link the chemistry of bulk metals to that of simple metal-organic compounds. This linkage relates the action of dissolved and surface catalysts. Organic molecules of biological complexity can be structurally identified and precisely replicated; this opens the way to tailored biological function. (See Sections IlI-D, IV-A, IV-B, IV-D.) Life Processes The recent striking advances in biology have exposed problems of revolution- ary significance that require analysis in terms of molecular interactions. With its ability to deal with molecular complexity, chemistry can play its role in investigating and clarifying the molecular origins of biological processes. 9

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10 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Working hypotheses for biological functions can be tested through deliberate synthesis of tailored molecules: natural product analogs, chemotherapeutic agents, proteins deliberately altered to provide new functions, genetic inserts. This will move us closer to real understanding of the basic workings of life processes in response to the strongest of human preoccupations, the nature and preservation of life. (See Sections IV-B, IV-C, {V-D, V-B.) Analytical Methods Conceptual advances in detection, characterization, and quantification of chemical species are benefitting chemistry and contiguous sciences on many fronts. Incorporation of computers is a key factor. Analytical separations based on a variety of chromatographic techniques are essential elements of the rapid progress in identification and synthesis of natural products. Novel ionization methods extend mass spectrometry to biologic macromolecules and other nonvolatile solids. Surface analysis and electroanalytical methods are helping to clarify important aspects of catalysis. Remote spectroscopic and a variety of laser techniques are furnishing timely contributions to environmental monitor- ing and protection. (See Sections V-A, V-D.) PRIORITY AREAS IN CHEMISTRY (See Ch. VII.) The strength of American science has been built by allowing creative' working scientists to decide independently where the best prospects lie for acquiring significant new knowledge. Many of the most far-reaching develop- ments, both in concept and application, have come from unexpected directions. Thus, to list priority areas carries the risk of closing off or quenching some adventurous new directions with potential yet to be recognized. Even so, it makes sense to concentrate some resources in specially promising areas. This can be done if we regard our research support as an investment portfolio designed to achieve maximum gain. A significant part of this invest- ment should be directed toward consensually recognized priority areas but with a flexibility that encourages evolution in these areas as new frontiers emerge. A second substantial element in this portfolio should be support of creative scientists who propose to explore new directions and new ideas. Finally, a third element must be provision of the instrumentation and the infrastructure needed to assure the cost effectiveness of the entire portfolio. Where this balance will fall for each of the funding sources will vary. Industrial research will weight heavily the currently recognized priority fron- tiers. At the other extreme, NSF must encourage the new avenues from which tomorrow's priority lists will be drawn. The other mission agencies should structure their portfolios between those extremes. With such a balanced portfolio in mind, the following priority areas and identified with the intent to achieve the greatest intellectual and societal returns.

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EXECUTIVE SUAIMARY Recommendation 1 Priority should be given to the following research frontiers: A. Understanding Chemical Reactivity B. Chemical Catalysis C. Chemistry of Life Processes D. Chemistry Around Us E. Chemical Behavior Under Extreme Conditions Recommendation 1 should be implemented through initiatives sponsored by the relevant mission agencies, scaled by each agency in its own appropriate balance with its support of creative scientists expected to explore new directions and new ideas. Initiative A. Understanding Chemical Reactivity We propose an initiative to apply the full power of modern instrumental tech- niques and chemical theory to the clarification of factors that control the rates of reaction and to the development of new synthetic pathways for chemical change. Principal objectives are to sustain international leadership for the United States at the major fundamental frontier of chemistry control of the rates of chemical reactions and to provide the basis for U.S. competitive advantage in development of new processes, new substances, and new materials. Initiative B. Chemical Catalysis We propose an initiative to apply the techniques of chemistry to obtain a molecular-level and coherent understanding of catalysis that encompasses het- erogeneous, homogeneous, photo-, electro-, and artificial enzyme catalysis. A principal objective here will be to provide the fundamental knowledge and creative manpower required for the United states to maintain competitive advantage in and to develop new catalysis-aided technologies. Initiative C. Chemistry of Life Processes We propose an initiative to develop and apply the techniques of chemistry to the solution of molecular-level problems in life processes and to develop young re- search scientists broadly competent in both chemistry and the biological sciences. A principal objective of this initiative will be to accelerate the conversion of qualitative biological information into techniques and substances useful in biotechnologies, in human and animal medicine, and in agriculture. Initiative D. Chemistry Around Us We propose an initiative devoted to understanding the chemical make-up of our environment and the complex chemicalprocesses that couple the atmosphere, 11

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12 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY oceans, earth, and biosphere, with special reference to man's conscious and inadvertent disturbance of this global reactor. Analytical chemistry and reaction dynamics define the core of this initiative. Principal objectives of this initiative are to provide the basic chemical understandings needed to protect our environment and to extend detection of potentially hazardous substances well below toxicity bounds so that potential problems can be anticipated and ameliorated long before hazard levels are reached. Initiative E. Chemical Behavior Under Extreme Conditions We propose an initiative to explore chemical reactions under conditions far removed from normal ambient conditions. Chemical behaviors under extreme pressures, extreme temperatures, in gaseous "plasmas," and at temperatures near absolute zero provide critical tests of our basic understandings of chemical reactions and new routes toward discovery of new materials and new devices. Principal objectives are to broaden our understanding of chemical change and to lead to new materials that will have application under extreme conditions of pressure, temperature, and exposure to specially challenging environments (e.g., fusion reactors, reentry vehicle heat shields, superconducting magnets). EXPLOITING THE OPPORTUNITIES IN CHEMISTRY The extent to which our nation will be able to benefit directly from these promising frontiers in chemistry is, in part, a matter of resources. This report shows that existing patterns of funding are anachronistic and inadequate. Average grant sizes are too small; for example, the average NSF grant will barely support the research activities of two or three students, while an active research group might range in size from six to sixteen (see Table VTI-S and the discussion preceding it). Furthermore, the grants do not provide support for the infrastructure nee(led to sustain the sophisticated scientific activities of today's chemistry (electronic, computer, and laboratory technicians, machinists and glass blowers, supplies). The inadequacy of support for "mid-cost" instru- mentation (less than $1 million), both for shared use among several research groups and for specialized and dedicated use, requires painful trade-offs that tend to restrict capacity to fund new, young investigators entering chemistry. (See Figure, p. 302.) The instrumentation crisis is exacerbated because univer- sity chemistry departments are struggling to provide the operating and main- tenance infrastructure needed to use this state-of-the-art equipment with maximum cost effectiveness. (See Tables VIl-4 and VIl-6.) The listing of opportunities and potential rewards to society that will flow from them is impressive. That we cannot afford to lose these rewards is underscored by the economic importance of chemistry. Business and industry employ more doctoral chemists than the sum of those employed in the biological

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY sciences, mathematics, physics, and astronomy combined (see Appendix Table A-41. Yet we find that the average federal investment in the crucial human resource in chemistry is only one fifth as much per Ph.D. as in other comparably important disciplines (see Table VTI-1 J. Without a more determined U.S. commitment to the chemical sciences, there is substantial likelihood that our leadership position will be preempted abroad. Chemistry in Industry The Chemistry and Allied Products industry invests heavily in its own in-house research. This report should be of value to the industry as it decides upon the amount and focus of its own research investment. In addition, U.S. industry has an interest in the health and direction of university-based fundamental research. Industrial progress and competitiveness also depend upon access to a reservoir of fundamental knowledge constantly replenished by university-based research and upon a stream of talented young scientists familiar with the latest chemical frontiers and instrumental techniques. Hence, industry furnishes direct support to university research. Though modest in total (about $10 million each to chemistry and chemical engineering in 1983), it is extremely important because it facilitates movement of new discoveries into new applications and influences university research agendas. Recommendation 2 New mechanisms and new incentives should be sought for strengthening links between industrial and academic research. RecornmencIation 3 Industry should increase its support for university fundamental research in the chemical sciences. Tax incentives to encourage such gains should be explored. The Federal Role in Fundamental Research Industry can engage in only a modest amount of the most fundamental and adventurous research because the time horizon for application is remote. Yet, this "high-risk" research offers the most far reaching benefits to society and the intellectual basis for technological competitiveness. It is an appropriate place for public investment. This report displays an array of opening research frontiers rich in potential for societal benefit. In this setting, an examination of funding patterns in a variety of disciplines that depend upon sophisticated instrumentation reveals that the federal investment in chemistry is not adequate and will not bring to society the full benefits to be realized. 13

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14 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Recommendation 4 The federal investment in chemistry should be raised to be commensurate with the practical importance of chemistry, both economic ant! societal, and with the outstanding intellectual oppor- tunities it now offers. Chemistry and the NSF Mission Chemistry supported by the NSF is judged on its potential for adding to our understanding of nature. Since the most far-reaching technological changes tend to stem from unpredictable discoveries, the fundamental research sup- ported by NSF is critical to this country's long-range technological future. The increasing dependence of our economy upon the health of our chemical industry coupled with the exciting intellectual opportunities in chemistry justify a considerably larger NSF support in all three of its crucial dimensions: shared instrumentation, dedicated instrumentation, and grant size. Such support is needed to assure a U.S. position of international leadership in the exploitation of the rich opportunities before us. Recommendation 5 (a) NSF should begin a 3-year initiative to increase its support for chemistry by 25 percent per year for FY 1987, FY 198S, and FY 1989. (b) The adcied increments should be directed toward! increasing grant size, ensuring encouragement of young investigators, en- hancing the shared instrumentation program, and increasing the amount directed toward declicated instrumentation. (c) NSF should build into its shared instrumentation program a federal capital investment averaging at 80 percent of instrument cost together with maintenance and oner~t.in~ route far ~ ~ veer period after purchase. Chemistry and the Department of Energy Mission ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ,7 ~ ~ For at least the next quarter century, 90 percent of our still growing energy use must come from chemical energy sources. At the same time, the quality and character of feedstocks will be changing in ways that challenge existing technologies and that make it harder to resolve society's concerns about environmental pollution. To meet these challenges, the Department of Energy currently invests in its Chemical Sciences Program only 5 percent and in its Biological Energy Research Program less than 1 percent of the total resources it directs toward 11 of its largest fundamental research programs. To assure our future access to abundant and clean sources of energy over the next three

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY decades, DOE must make a much larger commitment to the chemical sciences. This commitment must engage more fully both the DOE National Laboratories and the larger chemistry community. Recommendation 6 (a) The DOE should establish a major initiative in those areas of chemistry relevant to the energy technologies of the future. (b) In an appropriate number of our National Laboratories the defined mission should be reshaped to include a major focus on one or more of the chemistry areas crucial to energy technologies. (c) University research programs in energy-relevant areas of chemistry should be raised to be commensurate with those in the National Laboratories. (~) Incremental growth in these programs by a factor of about 2.o wild be needed to exploit the opportunities before them. For cost effectiveness, this growth should be uniformly spread over the next 5 years. A $22 million incremental growth in the FY 1986 DOE chemistry budget would support an appropriate beginning. Chemistry and the NIH Mission Progress in both medicine and chemistry now makes it possible to interpret complex biological events at the molecular level. Because of the ubiquitous role of chemistry in human health, NIH provides substantial support to chemists engaged in research at the broad interface of physiology/medicine/chemistry. Chemistry research relevant to the NTH mission concentrates largely in the Institute for General Medicinal Sciences. Characteristically, the grants are modest in size, and the award success rates have fluctuated widely over the last decade. Recommendation 7 (4a) A fraction of any additional NIH funds in support of chem- istry should be used to increase average grant size, including grants for young investigators anal particularly for cross- disciplinary collaborative programs that link expertise in chemis- try with that in other health-science [lisciplines. (b) NTH should vigorously continue its attempts to stabilize its extramural grant program. (c) NTH should maintain its extramural shared instrumentation program at a level approximately equal to that of NSF. The initial federal capital investment should include at least 80 percent of instrument cost, and maintenance and operating costs should be provide for 5 years after purchase. 15

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16 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Chemistry and the Department of Defense Mission Chemistry plays a critical part in our national security. It not only strength- ens our ability to deter and prevent armed conflict, it also contributes strongly to the health of the economy and to the maintenance of the technical manpower pool needed to develop and deploy our increasingly sophisticated defense technologies. In the longer view, our future national security, our international economic posture, and our technical manpower supply dictate DOD attention to fundamental chemical research, including that conducted at universities. Yet DOD support of fundamental research has grown very little over the last 5 years; its investment in university research does not fulfull DOD's desire to maintain our manpower pool while providing indirect influence on univer- sity research agendas toward promising chemistry areas key to our defense posture. Recommendation 8 (a) The percentage of the DOB R&D budget Erects to basic (6.~) research should be increased to restore tile 1965 value of percent. (5> DOD SUppOFt for un:vers~Ly research ;n the chem~at sci- enees said be raised to about 2o pererat of the total federal Support for baste research through real growth a'` I percent per year. (~> Parallel growila Should be provided to DOl3 -use re- search pro$rarr~s of the 6.! category ~n chemistry. (~) Growib sho-~ici cor~cer~trate attent:~n on the special opportu- n~es ream- ofl~d through chemistry ~n the following broad re- search areas: Stra~,:e and cram mater~ts Ferris, propel:aP~tS, and exlplos:~-es ALn:oSp7~:e phenomena Chem:~: $~-~og:~! Cleanse N-~@~: power and nuclear weapons emits <~) ~~act:~n betw-~ra DGB Iabora~-~es and u~E~-~S:~eS $~ 6C encouraged and leash. for ~~ S. lit- COHtIHLC IcS I~StF~$~ p~ 3~6 ~~ fine 8,55~-~!~ 0; If [~ maintenance and oL~erar;~. in' DO:3 I: exp;~e As '~-c suppo-+ new- co~- ^~on a~ ~enc`-at~on of ~FLl`-ersity research fac;~:es ~n part:cuTar~ty ~~ itiG~ Areas ~[ ~~e~ist~y.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Chemistry and the Department of Agriculture Mission The USDA devotes only a small portion of its R&D budget to chemistry research relevant to agriculture and animal health. But human needs are great, so we can ill adore to miss the relevant opportunities offered by chemistry. Recommendation 9 The Department of Agriculture should initiate a substantial competitive grants program in chemistry with the aim of increas- ing extramural support of fundamental research in chemistry relevant to agriculture and animal health to an approximate par with the Department's intramural program. Chemistry and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Mission The several initiatives proposed in this report present opportunities for improvement of the safety, range, and effectiveness of future space operations. Furthermore, NASA has unique capabilities for monitoring and mission-related concern about the changing chemical compositions of the troposphere and the stratosphere. Recommendation 10 (a) The National Aeronautics ant} Space Administration should maintain a substantial commitment to the understanding of atmo- spheric chemistry. (b) Increased attention should be clirected toward special oppor- tunities relevant to operations in space: high energy propellants; chemical behavior under extreme conditions; reaction kinetics and photochemistry under collision-free conditions. chemical aspects of life-sustenance in a closed system analytical methods for compositional monitoring in both the troposhere and the stratosphere (c) NASA should more actively encourage academic chemists to acIdress problems relevant to the NASA mission through compet- itive grants for fundamental research. 17

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18 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Chemistry in the Environmental Protection Agency The EPA has significant R&D programs specifically and properly directed toward currently recognized environmental problems, and many of these programs involve chemistry. This agency assumes a much less active role in fundamental research relevant to its mission as epitomized by its tiny Explor- atory Research program. This extramural program is now funded at $16M, less than 0.4 percent of the $4.25B EPA total. The EPA should follow the pattern of other federal mission agencies by defining those areas of research that underlie its mission goals and stimulating the expansion of knowledge in those areas through programs of fundamental research. Recommendation 11 (a) EPA should increase the percentage of its R&D funds placed in its Exploratory Research program and its commitment to extramural fundamental research relevant to environmental prob- lems of the future. (b) EPA should encourage fundamental chemical research to clarify reaction pathways open to molecules, atoms, and ions of environmental interest. (c) EPA should take a prominent role in support of long-range research in analytical chemistry with emphasis on extension of sensitivity limits, increase in detection selectivity, and exploration of new concepts. (~) EPA should have as a conscious and publicized goal the detection of potentially undesired environmental constituents at concentration levels far below known or expecter! toxicity limits. Conclusion In the next two decades there will be dramatic changes in our basic understanding of chemical change and in our ability to marshal that under- standing to accomplish deliberate purpose. The program presented here defines a leadership role for the United States as these advances are achieved. The rewards accompanying such leadership are commensurate with the prominent role of chemistry in addressing society's needs, in ameliorating problems of our technological age, and in sustaining our economic well-being. The costs of falling behind are not tolerable.

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C: : : :H ,MISTRY is a central science that :responds to societal:needs. It is critical in Man's attempt to. . . : : ~ lzscover:rlewprocesses:~

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:~:Beauty Is ~Only::Skin::Deep Ever think of going into the gold-brick business? Just take a big hunk of gold and a hacksaw and you've got a good-looking brick~with a nice heft. Unfortunately, one such brick and you're talking~$140-150,00~0~! There's no room for mark-up. But Suppose you get an ordinary brick (wholesale in South Jersey, 17!)~and~ just~coat the surface with goldthe cost will come down a lot. And you'll have a beautiful redbrickwell, at least "skin-deep." So how much would such bare surface coatings cost? For openers, put a one-atom- thick layer of gold atoms over the entire surface of~the brick. Let's see, 2 inches by 4 inches by 8 inchesgold ~ at $320 an ounceone atom thick i ~ \ ~ i l ~ / / that'll~ be . . . 0.3 worth of gold. Wow! There, we've gotten at- ~ / ~ , :~ / tractive product at teetotal material cost of 17.3 (not~including , _ . pac caging ~ ' ~ ~: - That's pretty impre sive. It means that the outermost ayer i ~ ~ ~ >~ ' (the surface) of a $150,000 piece of gold involves so few atoms that they would cost less than a cent. Yet that miniscule fraction of atoms on the surface of a piece of metal controls the chemistry of that piece. For instance, these surface atoms are the ones that determine whether the metal surface acts as a catalyst or not. And catalysts account, one way or another, for about 20 percent of our gross national product. So what is a catalyst? It's a chemical substance that speeds up a chemical reaction without itself getting into the act (i.e., it is not consumed while doing its thing). A solid catalyst merely furnishes its surface as a meeting place for gaseous molecules. For instance, when a molecule of methanol lands on a rhodium catalyst surface, it usually sticks for a while (becomes adsorbed). Now, if a carbon monoxide molecule happens to arrive, zingo, it reacts with an adsorbed methanol molecule and they leave the surface as acetic acid. When methanol and carbon monoxide meet in the gas phase, they won't even give each other the time of day. But~because of the special environment provided by that thin layer of surface atoms on the rhodium catalyst, methanol and carbon monoxide react so rapidly that 500,000 tons of com- mercial acetic acid are made every year this way! This kind of speed-up might be anywhere from a thousand-fold to a million-fold when things are working. Because of such successes, chemists care a lot about how these catalytic gold bricks do their job. What actually happens to that thin layer of adsorbed molecules as they come and no on a catalytic metal surface? Unfortunately, that's where the skin- ~ ,. .. . deep principle works against us. lt there 1sn t much on the surface, there 1sn t much to see. But nowadays, we have several powerful instruments with which we can learn about the special properties of the skin of a metal. These instruments also let us watch molecules as they lodge on the surfaces of catalysts like platinum and rhodium and many others. We can see how the molecules are chemically changed by the metallic skin to make them more reactive when a suitable reaction partner comes along. So chemists are beginning to understand how to design these catalytic gold bricks to do whatever we want. Right now, every gallon of your gasoline began as a bunch of molecules sure to make your engine knock and then some chemist catalytically converted them into other molecules that make your engine purr. But now we are looking ahead to new energy feedstocks with more sulfur and metallic contaminants that will require much better catalysts so that we can keep your engine purring and the air clean at the same time. We'll do it by learning how those catalytic gold bricks work so we can tailor them to our needs. This is a case where skin-deep beauty really pays off. 20