Introduction and Summary

The Panel on ONR Research Opportunities in Chemistry was convened for the purpose of identifying gaps in research coverage and new research opportunities in chemistry, taking into account current and anticipated naval operational requirements. The collective experience of the panel members includes academic and industrial research, management of research and program direction, naval service and naval contract administration, participation in preparation of the predecessor report of 1986,1 and exposure to Navy planning through membership on the Naval Studies Board. An excellent Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) briefing served to define the task. The oracular character of the assignment was not lost on the panel.

The panel operated in a mode that favored the search for opportunities over the search for gaps in the present program. To the extent that opportunities delineated are already being pursued by ONR, their inclusion can be taken as reinforcement. To the extent that panel suggestions are not currently reflected in the ONR program, they may be regarded as identified gaps. The panel acknowledges that a different, well-qualified group might well have come up with a different list, but in March of 1994 a comfortable consensus emerged for the topics included herein.

The issues identified have been arranged into eight groups, each representing a fairly broad theme. They may be described briefly as follows.

  1. Designed functional materials: Science and engineering have entered an era in which new materials can be designed and optimized, as opposed to the former situation in which materials provided by nature were adapted to use. Chemistry plays a central role in this design process.

  2. Chemistry of advanced structural materials: Advanced structural materials are widely used in high-technology applications. Composites offer great advantages over metals when reduced weight and other properties are important. Research on the chemistry of composite systems is necessary to achieve the potential properties demanded by Navy use. Research is also needed to provide composite materials of sufficient demonstrated integrity that they will be acceptable in the demanding naval environment.

  3. Chemistry of manufacturing and processing: Manufacturing generally, and materials processing specifically, have become increasingly chemical over recent decades. It is important to study closely the chemical fundamentals of production and processing to achieve maximum yields, reduced cost, and superior performance.

1  

Selected Opportunities for Chemical Research Related to the Navy Mission (An Interim Report), National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1986.



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ONR Research Opportunities in Chemistry Introduction and Summary The Panel on ONR Research Opportunities in Chemistry was convened for the purpose of identifying gaps in research coverage and new research opportunities in chemistry, taking into account current and anticipated naval operational requirements. The collective experience of the panel members includes academic and industrial research, management of research and program direction, naval service and naval contract administration, participation in preparation of the predecessor report of 1986,1 and exposure to Navy planning through membership on the Naval Studies Board. An excellent Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) briefing served to define the task. The oracular character of the assignment was not lost on the panel. The panel operated in a mode that favored the search for opportunities over the search for gaps in the present program. To the extent that opportunities delineated are already being pursued by ONR, their inclusion can be taken as reinforcement. To the extent that panel suggestions are not currently reflected in the ONR program, they may be regarded as identified gaps. The panel acknowledges that a different, well-qualified group might well have come up with a different list, but in March of 1994 a comfortable consensus emerged for the topics included herein. The issues identified have been arranged into eight groups, each representing a fairly broad theme. They may be described briefly as follows. Designed functional materials: Science and engineering have entered an era in which new materials can be designed and optimized, as opposed to the former situation in which materials provided by nature were adapted to use. Chemistry plays a central role in this design process. Chemistry of advanced structural materials: Advanced structural materials are widely used in high-technology applications. Composites offer great advantages over metals when reduced weight and other properties are important. Research on the chemistry of composite systems is necessary to achieve the potential properties demanded by Navy use. Research is also needed to provide composite materials of sufficient demonstrated integrity that they will be acceptable in the demanding naval environment. Chemistry of manufacturing and processing: Manufacturing generally, and materials processing specifically, have become increasingly chemical over recent decades. It is important to study closely the chemical fundamentals of production and processing to achieve maximum yields, reduced cost, and superior performance. 1   Selected Opportunities for Chemical Research Related to the Navy Mission (An Interim Report), National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1986.

OCR for page 1
ONR Research Opportunities in Chemistry Chemistry of material for photonics: Photonic materials represent a route to new levels of secure, broad-band communications, a prime Navy need. The chemistry of the preparation of these materials and devices is a field of the highest importance. Biomolecular chemistry: Biomolecular chemistry is advancing rapidly across a broad front. Beyond contributing to the more evident medical benefits, learning the methods employed by nature to prepare materials will allow much more precise control of structures and provide new sources of materials with outstanding properties. The biological-electronic interface: Information processing is a field that has progressed rapidly in recent years. Two distinct areas, biological and electronic information, have surged ahead, largely independent of one another. Important research in the near future will involve the interface of biological and electronic information processing, where abundant opportunities exist for understanding fundamentals and for engineering the interface to the benefit of society. The strongly chemical character of biological information processing mechanisms and circuit elements makes clear the importance of chemistry in this multidisciplinary field. Generation and storage of energy: The chemical generation and storage of energy is an area in which progress is rapid at this time, largely in response to government mandates to the automobile industry. The Navy should benefit greatly from this activity and should support necessary basic understanding of the chemistry involved. The environment: The Navy now faces a wide variety of environmental obstacles to economical and convenient fleet operation. Most of these problems are basically chemical in character, and understanding of the fundamentals will point the way to their solutions.