Executive Summary

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has a well-recognized program in polymer science and engineering. The program reinforces the Navy 's recognition of the growing importance of polymeric materials to a broad range of applications. In the present study, areas of opportunity for research in polymers are identified and discussed in the context of Navy needs for advanced technology. The identified priority research opportunities are in the following areas:

  • Polymer surfaces and interfaces,

  • Polymer synthesis and characterization, and

  • Theoretical modeling and computer simulation of polymeric behavior and properties.

These three topics were also recommended as high-priority, frontier areas for research in a recent National Research Council (NRC) study, Polymer Science and Engineering: The Shifting Research Frontiers (National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1994). (In addition, Polymer Science and Engineering recommended research on polymer processing and manufacturing, but the present panel concluded that work in this field was less directly suited to NRL.)

Biological and biomedical applications of polymers are also identified as areas of rapid current development. Two opportunities in this area are suggested:

  • Biomimetics and biocomposites and

  • Biomedical applications.

These application areas were also featured in Polymer Science and Engineering.

Electronic applications of polymers are well established, but a variety of new uses, based on polymer electronic properties, are now emerging and give promise of future technological advantages. Three opportunities are suggested for this area:

  • Nonlinear optical materials,

  • Flexible display devices, and

  • Ultrahigh-density memory.

In addition to opportunities in areas having broad applicability, the following research issues relate directly to the Navy's adoption of polymeric materials:

  • Reduced flammability,

  • Mechanical properties and failure mechanisms,

  • Controlled transport (release and membranes), and

  • Polymer composite materials, including polymer-ceramic composites.

The panel believes that these areas of research are strongly relevant to the future technology needs of the Navy and that they are compatible with existing NRL strengths in personnel, programs, and facilities.



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Polymers Executive Summary The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has a well-recognized program in polymer science and engineering. The program reinforces the Navy 's recognition of the growing importance of polymeric materials to a broad range of applications. In the present study, areas of opportunity for research in polymers are identified and discussed in the context of Navy needs for advanced technology. The identified priority research opportunities are in the following areas: Polymer surfaces and interfaces, Polymer synthesis and characterization, and Theoretical modeling and computer simulation of polymeric behavior and properties. These three topics were also recommended as high-priority, frontier areas for research in a recent National Research Council (NRC) study, Polymer Science and Engineering: The Shifting Research Frontiers (National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1994). (In addition, Polymer Science and Engineering recommended research on polymer processing and manufacturing, but the present panel concluded that work in this field was less directly suited to NRL.) Biological and biomedical applications of polymers are also identified as areas of rapid current development. Two opportunities in this area are suggested: Biomimetics and biocomposites and Biomedical applications. These application areas were also featured in Polymer Science and Engineering. Electronic applications of polymers are well established, but a variety of new uses, based on polymer electronic properties, are now emerging and give promise of future technological advantages. Three opportunities are suggested for this area: Nonlinear optical materials, Flexible display devices, and Ultrahigh-density memory. In addition to opportunities in areas having broad applicability, the following research issues relate directly to the Navy's adoption of polymeric materials: Reduced flammability, Mechanical properties and failure mechanisms, Controlled transport (release and membranes), and Polymer composite materials, including polymer-ceramic composites. The panel believes that these areas of research are strongly relevant to the future technology needs of the Navy and that they are compatible with existing NRL strengths in personnel, programs, and facilities.