such commitments have been inadequate to meet present needs and opportunities.
The results of inadequate U.S. commitment to instrumentation in materials research have become increasingly apparent in recent years. The current shortage of state-of-the-art instrumentation for preparing and characterizing materials is a problem that has been discussed by several national study groups and has been addressed by special instrumentation programs in several federal funding agencies. The outward manifestations of this problem are inadequate and obsolete instrumentation in universities and government laboratories, a growing dependence on foreign laboratories for the development of advanced new instrumentation, too small a number of students being trained in the use or development of sophisticated instruments, too few small U.S. companies capable of developing and manufacturing new instruments, and inabilities of larger industrial laboratories to apply modern techniques of measurement science to fabrication and processing.
The committee’s survey of the current state of instrumentation in materials science and engineering has led it to the following conclusions:
The shortage of modern instrumentation in U.S. laboratories is a symptom of a problem deeply embedded in the materials science and engineering community. Too low a priority has been placed on instrumentation, instrumentation development, and measurement science as a whole.
The characterization of materials and the instrumentation that goes with it are still regarded as routine service functions in many materials laboratories. Scientists working on the development of new instrumentation or measurement techniques are not viewed as being part of the scientific or engineering elite.
A very large fraction of the worldwide development of new instruments currently takes place outside the United States. As a result, state-of-the-art instruments often are being used in foreign laboratories to prepare or characterize materials long before they appear in the United States. The committee’s survey of the instrumentation used, for example, by surface scientists, indicates that there is approximately a 5-year delay between the time a new instrument is announced to the scientific community and the time it is transferred to research laboratories in the United States. It therefore seems possible that a significant part of U.S. materials research will fall some years behind that of our foreign competitors unless we do more to encourage the development of instrumentation in this country.
The lack of research in instrument development in United States universities has created a shortage of students trained in sophisticated instrumentation.
Innovative developments in instrumentation do occur in the United States, but our system often does not seem to be capable of sustaining these inno-