2

INTRODUCTION

2.1. How Important Is It For the United States to Lead in Materials Science and Engineering?

Materials are the substances from which things are or can be made. Materials science and engineering—the study of how to make, use, and adapt substances—has been central to social advancement and economic growth since the dawn of history. There has been an explosion in our understanding and application of materials science and engineering since the end of World War II, and the connection has become stronger between this field and other areas of emerging technology. The result has been an acceleration in the recent past of its contributions to social advancement and economic growth.

Federally-funded research on materials originally focused on defense and nuclear applications, but was expanded in the 1960s to include the space program, the protection of the environment, and the development of new energy systems. Today, research addresses issues in agriculture, health, information and communication, infrastructure and construction, and transportation. The future holds the promise of “intelligent” materials that will enable diverse technologies to respond dynamically to changes in the environment. A new class of materials, nanostructures, is already being used to advance the study of electromagnetics and mechanical properties (OSTP 1993).

Our national defense will continue to depend on providing the most advanced weapons to our military forces. Advanced materials are crucial to the improved performance and reliability of our weapons. Maintaining world leadership in materials essential to the design and manufacture of weapons will have high national priority.

To be leaders in industrial growth and to promote a vibrant economy, it is critical that the United States be among the world's leaders in all the subfields of materials science and engineering research. We need to be able to evaluate, adapt, and integrate materials identified and developed elsewhere in the world for use in new products and processes. Having world-class researchers who are knowledgeable about the frontiers of materials science and engineering is crucial to the rapid commercial assimilation and exploitation of important discoveries.. Innovations in materials science abound in nearly all sectors of our economy. In agriculture, advanced natural polymers can be made from renewable resources that biodegrade more rapidly than plastics do. In energy, new materials and processing can be used to reduce energy costs significantly and conserve resources in the generation, transmission, and storage of energy. In protecting the environment, there is an opportunity to develop materials and processes that lead to cycles of infinite reuse. In health, biomaterials can be used to make artificial organs, joints, and heart valves; pacemakers; and lens implants, among others. Improvements in biomaterials could help improve the delivery of health care and reduce costs through the custom design of



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INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH 2 INTRODUCTION 2.1. How Important Is It For the United States to Lead in Materials Science and Engineering? Materials are the substances from which things are or can be made. Materials science and engineering—the study of how to make, use, and adapt substances—has been central to social advancement and economic growth since the dawn of history. There has been an explosion in our understanding and application of materials science and engineering since the end of World War II, and the connection has become stronger between this field and other areas of emerging technology. The result has been an acceleration in the recent past of its contributions to social advancement and economic growth. Federally-funded research on materials originally focused on defense and nuclear applications, but was expanded in the 1960s to include the space program, the protection of the environment, and the development of new energy systems. Today, research addresses issues in agriculture, health, information and communication, infrastructure and construction, and transportation. The future holds the promise of “intelligent” materials that will enable diverse technologies to respond dynamically to changes in the environment. A new class of materials, nanostructures, is already being used to advance the study of electromagnetics and mechanical properties (OSTP 1993). Our national defense will continue to depend on providing the most advanced weapons to our military forces. Advanced materials are crucial to the improved performance and reliability of our weapons. Maintaining world leadership in materials essential to the design and manufacture of weapons will have high national priority. To be leaders in industrial growth and to promote a vibrant economy, it is critical that the United States be among the world's leaders in all the subfields of materials science and engineering research. We need to be able to evaluate, adapt, and integrate materials identified and developed elsewhere in the world for use in new products and processes. Having world-class researchers who are knowledgeable about the frontiers of materials science and engineering is crucial to the rapid commercial assimilation and exploitation of important discoveries.. Innovations in materials science abound in nearly all sectors of our economy. In agriculture, advanced natural polymers can be made from renewable resources that biodegrade more rapidly than plastics do. In energy, new materials and processing can be used to reduce energy costs significantly and conserve resources in the generation, transmission, and storage of energy. In protecting the environment, there is an opportunity to develop materials and processes that lead to cycles of infinite reuse. In health, biomaterials can be used to make artificial organs, joints, and heart valves; pacemakers; and lens implants, among others. Improvements in biomaterials could help improve the delivery of health care and reduce costs through the custom design of

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INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH artificial biologic implants, for example, that will last a lifetime rather than a few years. In information and communications research involving semiconductors, new methods of design and processing could enhance the viability of the US electronics industry and open new marketing opportunities. In infrastructure and construction, the use of new or improved could reduce expensive maintenance of such structures as buildings, highways, bridges, and airport runways, to name a few. In transportation, materials research can help maintain US leadership in the increasingly competitive world aircraft market and reduce imports of oil and automobiles (OSTP 1993). It is now possible to synthesize new materials atom by atom. The number of possible combinations of atomic assemblies to achieve new structures and properties is seemingly unbounded. But if the United States is to exploit these possibilities, strong national research capabilities by single investigators and multidisciplinary teams are required. Equipment—large-scale research instrumentation—will be required to characterize new materials from their smallest constituents at all scales of assembly. Computational methods are needed to find the best materials for a particular use. Strengths in materials science and engineering research and education at US universities and colleges support other disciplines of science and engineering. The benefit increases with the growing unification of the field when multidisciplinary research can be done in centralized laboratories. Collaborative research benefits everyone because it helps identify new areas of endeavor and expand existing ones. 2.2. What Is Materials Science and Engineering? The field of materials science and engineering research seeks to explain and control one or more of four basic elements: The properties or phenomena of a material that make it interesting or useful; The performance of a material; that is, the measurement of its usefulness in actual conditions of application; The structure and composition of a material, including the type of atoms that determine its properties and performance and their arrangement; and The synthesis and processing by which the particular arrangements of atoms are achieved (NRC 1989). For the purposes of this report, the Panel divided materials science and engineering into 9 major subfields: Biomaterials Ceramics Composites Magnetic materials Metals

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INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH Electronic and optical–photonic materials Superconducting materials Polymers Catalysts These fields are described in Table 2.1 (modified from OSTP, 1993). The Panel has added the subfield of catalysts to OSTP's original list and combined two of the subfields—electronic and optical–photonic materials. It is important to appreciate that the classifications are arbitrary and overlapping. For example, supertough materials based on abalone shell biomimetrics are both biomaterials and composites. Figure 2.1 illustrates the interrelationships among categories.

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INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH Figure 2.1: Inter-relationships among materials categories

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INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH Box 2.1 Materials Subfields Biomaterials and biomolecular materials: Diverse materials compatible with human tissues or that mimic biologic phenomena; materials made from products of biologic origin. Traditional materials include dental fillings and crowns. Advanced materials are made from metals, ceramics, fibers, polymers, and natural biomolecules. Widespread applications are possible: artificial hearts, ultra–tough ceramic tank armor modeled on the molecular structure of abalone shells, biodegradable plastics for packaging, and nanofabricated circuit patterns on silicon for living neurons. Metals: Tough, strong structural materials and electrical conductors. Traditional metals include commodity alloys of elements such as iron, nickel, and aluminum. Advanced metals tailored for specialty application include light-weight magnesium alloys; specialty tool steels and nickel-based alloys; refractory alloys; and high-temperature–high-strength intermetallics. Ceramics: Materials made from nonmetallic inorganic minerals. Ceramics are noted for their light weight, hardness, and resistance to corrosion and high temperatures. Spark plug insulators are a traditional example. Advanced ceramics are used for thermal coatings and in high-temperature engines. Superconducting materials: Materials that carry electrical current with no resistance. Some metals and alloys exhibit this characteristic but only at temperatures approaching absolute zero. Advanced varieties, including oxides, organics, and some intermetallics, superconduct at higher temperatures, some exceeding the liquefaction temperature of nitrogen. Composites: Hybrids of at least 2 materials, usually reinforced ceramics, metals, or organic matrix materials, which are combined to exploit the most useful properties of each. Fiberglass is a traditional composite, composed of glass fibers in an epoxy matrix. Advanced composites have structural and nonstructural applications and often are used in air and land vehicles. Polymers: Large molecules consisting of long chains of repeated units. Polymers are noted for unique combinations of properties and have a range of applications, from plastic containers to liquid crystal displays. Plastic wrap is a traditional example. Polyimides are advanced, high-temperature polymers used for electronic packaging and aircraft skins. Electronic materials: Electronic materials are active materials, such as semiconductors, that transmit signals by way of electrons. Current electronic technology is based on silicon but, newer semiconductors include compound semiconductors, (gallium arsenide), wide-band-gap semiconductors (silicon carbide). These compound semiconductors also are considered optical– photonic materials (see box). This class includes metals, ceramics, and polymers used in electronic wiring, interconnections, and packaging. Optical–photonic materials include materials that transmit light; those used as light sources, such as lasers; and those used to switch and modulate light. Glass is in this category in numerous forms, from window panes to optical fibers. Magnetic materials: Materials that possess spontaneous magnetization. Their magnetic fields make them useful in motors and generators; the orientation of magnetization can be used to store information. Magnetic materials can be metallic, such as iron and iron–rare earth alloys, or nonmetallic, such as oxides. Catalysts: Materials that accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed in the process. Catalysts find wide use for production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, refining of petroleum, and for control of emissions of the products of combustion (for example, from motor vehicle engines). The benefits of catalytic processes include low process costs, improved productivity, high selectivity to desired product, and reduction of unwanted by-products.

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INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH 2.3 What Key Factors Characterize the Field? Materials science and engineering is multidisciplinary. Nearly all of science and engineering are involved in some way with some aspect of materials; the field involves internal and external interactions with the science and engineering communities at large. Scientists and engineers in many disciplines, including solid-state physics, chemistry, electronics, biology, and mechanics—not just those with materials science and engineering degrees—provide many of the ideas and motivation for materials science and engineering research. Nearly all modern industries benefit from developments in materials research. Because there is considerable overlap in the study of materials problems among industries, solutions have enormous economic leverage. Semiconductors, for example, are at the foundation of the electronics industry. The development of new materials also has a large economic multiplying effect because it creates demands for new processing equipment and manufacturing tools. Research in materials science and engineering is capital intensive and involves increasingly sophisticated characterization instruments and equipment for synthesis, processing, and analysis. The equipment ranges from small, laboratory bench-scale machines that serve a single investigator to synchrotron sources, nuclear reactors, superconducting magnets, and supercomputers that serve large user communities and research groups. The field benefits from the large US installed base of research facilities. Problems in materials science and engineering research require all forms of research, from small-scale research carried out by a principal investigator and a small team, to large multidisciplinary teams, and regional consortia involving many investigators. Consortia, alliances, and partnerships of industrial, university, and government laboratories are a common mode of exploiting breakthroughs in the field. Equally common are the international collaborations made possible by the explosive growth of the Internet. Computational research and engineering, involving large-scale supercomputers and computer networks, is gaining importance in solving all manner of materials problems—from the subatomic to the macroscopic scale. Considerable progress has been made recently in simulations of complex materials phenomena based on first principles, such as mesophysical and mesomechanical phenomena. Computational strategies are emerging to provide physical descriptions of materials over a range of sizes important to a given process. In some instances, the use of these strategies allows the prediction of system performance that are not possible now by direct measurement. The field benefits directly from US strengths in computer science and engineering. New developments in materials science and engineering can aid rapid paradigm shifts in the development of new technologies in fields that are not directly related to materials research. For example, the discovery of high-temperature superconductors just a decade ago is leading to important technological developments in medicine, defense, energy, computing, telecommunications, and transportation. These developments will enable important expansions in the global market of the next century. Because of the increasing severity of the environments in which many advanced materials are used, the time from first synthesis to practical, reliable application can be long, often fifteen years or more. Long-term research is expensive, so sustained public-sector investment in precompetitive research and development is critical for realizing the economic potential of new materials discoveries. Strong user involvement in the early stages of materials synthesis and

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INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH applications research is critical for facilitating the early adoption of new materials for new or existing applications. 2.4. What Is the International Nature of Materials Science and Engineering? Materials science and engineering is an international effort that affects an individual nation's economic, industrial, and military strength and the education of its citizens. Because of the importance of materials to economic strength and industrial success, most major US trading partners have targeted materials science and engineering as a growth area and have made major investments to build competency in the field. Materials science and engineering is prominently represented in national public–private sector partnerships for economic development in most European countries and in the Pacific Rim countries, notably Japan. National and multinational companies with strong research and development programs in materials technologies market their products worldwide. Materials technology is critical to the development of advanced military weapons and are one determinant of military strength. Nations that supply military equipment, such as the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Russia, have built strong industrial and government laboratories that specialize in military-related materials research, although much of their results find civilian applications as well. Leadership in the subfields of materials science and engineering can shift unexpectedly. Many prominent researchers in materials science and engineering around the world have received graduate education in US research universities. This facilitates international collaboration and exchange with US investigators. Most new discoveries are immediately communicated around the globe today, and most new materials developments are exploited in many countries simultaneously. Likewise, many new discoveries are now announced simultaneously by researchers in different countries. 2.5. What Are Some Caveats? Because of the size and industrial strength of the US materials science and engineering research community, it cannot be compared meaningfully with those of other single countries. The only sensible method is to compare the US with regional groups, such as Europe or Asia, for example. To the extent possible, in this report, specific countries are mentioned in connection with particular areas of science and technology. Because of the enormous breadth of the field, it is necessary to divide materials science and engineering research into subfields, each of which is also extremely broad. The panel adopted the material subfields identified by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) National Science and Technology Council in its 1993 and 1995 reports, The Federal Research and Development Program in Materials Science and Technology. The reports list biomaterials, ceramics, composites, electronic materials, magnetic materials, metals, optical– photonic materials, polymers, and superconducting materials. The panel added catalysts to this list and combined the electronic and optical–photonic materials research into one category. Fundamental materials discoveries can occur in many research settings. For example,

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INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH NITINOL (a memory alloy) was discovered at a government laboratory, high-temperature superconductivity was discovered at an industrial laboratory, and rapidly solidified amorphous metals were first produced at a university. Many such developments occur in all three settings at the same time, leading to synergistic breakthroughs. Centers of excellence abound in all three settings in the United States as well as abroad. Multidisciplinary research is a common mode for individual investigators as well as for large research teams. In industrial and governmental laboratories, materials research is, for the most part conducted by multidisciplinary teams, often led by scientists or engineers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. For example, advanced polymer research is commonly led by chemists, and research on electronic materials is commonly led by physicists. Mathematicians often are involved in theoretical studies and in the development of computational models and simulations. At universities, most large science and engineering departments have self-contained research groups that focus on materials-related science, engineering, or both. In the United States, there has been a strong unification of the field over the past 3 decades, to include the development at most universities of a unified curriculum across the field. At many research universities, the first course in materials is offered to freshmen. There are still many important materials-related courses provided outside materials science and engineering departments, so instruction also has interdisciplinary aspects. Although departments of materials science and engineering are often found in schools of engineering in the United States, they are commonly found in schools of science or natural history abroad. 2.6. Panel Charge and Rationale The Panel was asked to conduct a comparative international assessment to answer three questions: What is the position of US research relative to that of other regions or countries? What key factors influence US performance in the field? On the basis of current trends in the United States and abroad, what will be the relative US position in the near term and in the longer term? The panel was asked only to develop findings and conclusions—not recommendations. The panel focus is on leading-edge exploratory research—intermixing basic and applied research and product development. The panel responded to the second question first, identifying the determinants of leadership that have influenced US advancement in the field and the establishment of the supporting research infrastructure. Section 3 of the report details the panel's findings. The panel then assessed current US leadership in the nine subfields. The results of this assessment—the benchmarking results given in Section 4 of the report—are in response to the first charge. The next step was to assimilate past leadership determinants and current benchmarking results to predict US leadership, thereby to address the third charge. This analysis is given in

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INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH Section 5 of the report. The panel next attempted to predict—based on near-term and longer term trends in the determinants of leadership and in corresponding developments around the world—leadership positions of the United States in the subfields of materials science and engineering. That is, would the United States gain, maintain, or lose position with respect to its current state? Section 6 of the report discusses the Panel's predictions for each of the subfields assessed. Tables in Appendix B provide specific analyses by sub-subfield. The panel's principal findings and conclusions are given in Section 7.

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