on resources devoted to the task. Those nations that deploy their resources wisely can be expected to reap a rich technological and economic harvest in the decades ahead.
Several common themes have been discussed in this chapter. Foremost is the role of synthesis and processing in developing structural, electronic, magnetic, photonic, and superconducting materials and biomaterials. From strip casting of metals through the synthesizing of new nonlinear optical media in photonic materials to improving the critical current requirements of the new high-temperature superconductors, synthesis and processing are crucial for the continuing advancement of those technologies that depend on these functional properties.
Numerical simulations, modeling, and calculation of properties from first principles are increasingly used by scientists and engineers as means to shorten the time to develop understanding and applications of materials. It is almost inevitable that computers will be used increasingly to simulate the properties of new assemblies of atoms or to simulate a new process to shape structural materials, for instance. This trend needs to be encouraged in materials science and engineering both at the level of practice as well as at the level of teaching.
The enormous utility of the functional properties of the materials described in this chapter is well known. Previous studies dealing with particular classes of functional materials, such as electronic materials, have been carried out both in the United States and abroad. This study, however, emphasizes to a much greater degree the importance of synthesis and processing as the key, top-priority area of opportunity in materials science and engineering today. This theme is further developed in the section “Synthesis and Processing” in Chapter 4. To a very large extent, the relative advantage an organization or a nation will have in the competitive race ahead will be determined by the speed with which ideas such as those presented here can be exploited.