One of the fastest single-chip microprocessors is put through 1 of100 fabrication steps in a class-one, ultraclean manufacturing facility.

inorganic sector as well. At present, our use of inorganic materials is heavily weighted toward simpler compounds such as alumina, silica, and silicon nitride. There is much less emphasis on complex inorganic species, except where they occur naturally and except for a few materials such as those being developed as high-temperature superconductors. Significant developments will rely on an expansion of our understanding of structure-property relationships.

A key component of new materials will be composites with new compositional and microstructural relationships. A major new area is likely to be composites that contain two or more levels of composite structure, rather than the single level that is typically employed now. Such composites would afford better performance for a given function and also would provide for more diverse performance by combining multiple functions in a single material. One application is for adaptive or “smart” materials that will be capable of changing their physical shape, properties, or both in response to their environment in a way that improves their functionality.

Continued research is aimed at developing protective clothing and related products such as the medical glove liners shown here, designed to be worn under latex gloves, protecting surgeons and other medical personnel from accidental cuts and exposure to blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS.

Research scientists investigate properties of composite fibers.

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