for carrying out research relevant to materials processing will be essential for achieving high quality and cost effectiveness in all industrial sectors.
The national and federal laboratories, with their extensive technical resources and special facilities, are well positioned to make major contributions to research in materials processing.
Recent scientific and technological developments have provided a remarkably diverse range of challenges and opportunities for research in the processing of materials. Among these opportunities are the following:
Process modeling and simulation: High-speed computing capabilities coupled with improved theoretical understanding provide opportunities for improvements in materials processing technologies.
Ceramics: Improvements in the technologies for processing of ceramic materials will be required in order to fabricate the new high-temperature superconductors, as well as to exploit the potential of ceramics in a broad range of electronic and structural applications.
Optoelectronic materials: Advances in an array of processing technologies will be necessary in order to realize the opportunities present in optoelectronics. These technologies include crystal growth, molecular beam epitaxy, and physical and chemical vapor deposition.
Rapid solidification: The continued development of this processing technology should lead to a wide range of applications and products.
Metals: The processing technologies of the metals industries require a major infusion of resources, with an emphasis on areas such as automation and recycling of materials.
Polymers: Processing techniques such as reaction injection molding, melt spinning, and polymer forging offer significant potential for further development.
Technological challenges in the processing of materials, such as those listed above, bring with them needs for improved understanding at more basic scientific levels. Areas in which new needs for fundamental research are emerging include the following:
Interfaces: Much of materials processing consists of manipulating and controlling the interfaces that separate various components of complex substances. New experimental methods and characterization techniques should lead to significant advances in understanding interfaces.
Nonequilibrium materials: Materials processing technologies generally deal with materials in states that are very far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Experimental and theoretical advances in understanding the thermodynamics and kinetics of nonequilibrium states are now within reach and should lead to improvements in processing technology.