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Suggested Citation:"Concluding Remarks." National Research Council. 2007. Condensed-Matter and Materials Physics: The Science of the World Around Us. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11967.
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Page 239
Suggested Citation:"Concluding Remarks." National Research Council. 2007. Condensed-Matter and Materials Physics: The Science of the World Around Us. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11967.
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Page 240

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Concluding Remarks Moving into the 21st century, CMMP faces exciting scientific and technologi- cal opportunities, summarized in the six grand challenges identified in this report. These and other challenges will drive the continued vitality and growth of CMMP, as well as its continuing impact on the U.S. economy and society. The fundamental scientific questions, the close interplay between theoretical and experimental re- search, and the technological applications that will contribute to solving important societal problems all drive enthusiasm for the field. Attracted by such compelling research opportunities, more starting graduate students in U.S. programs choose CMMP than any other single subfield of physics. These young minds are the future of CMMP and of its role in society. However, the Committee on CMMP 2010 also concluded that there are danger signs on the horizon. U.S. leadership in fundamental CMMP research is seriously threatened by the low success rates in proposals submitted for government fund- ing of research, the precipitous decline of involvement of industrial laboratories in fundamental CMMP research, and the increasing competition from other countries for the best scientists. Due to tremendous momentum in the research establish- ment, the ill effects of these structural problems are only just starting to manifest themselves in measurable terms, such as publication rates, and in the ability to attract the best young scientists to research positions in the United States. The Committee on CMMP 2010 therefore urges that action be taken now. Prompt at- tention to these structural problems is needed to ensure U.S. leadership in CMMP research and technological innovation now and for the future. 239

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The development of transistors, the integrated circuit, liquid-crystal displays, and even DVD players can be traced back to fundamental research pioneered in the field of condensed-matter and materials physics (CMPP). The United States has been a leader in the field, but that status is now in jeopardy. Condensed-Matter and Materials Physics, part of the Physics 2010 decadal survey project, assesses the present state of the field in the United States, examines possible directions for the 21st century, offers a set of scientific challenges for American researchers to tackle, and makes recommendations for effective spending of federal funds. This book maintains that the field of CMPP is certain to be principle to both scientific and economic advances over the next decade and the lack of an achievable plan would leave the United States behind. This book's discussion of the intellectual and technological challenges of the coming decade centers around six grand challenges concerning energy demand, the physics of life, information technology, nanotechnology, complex phenomena, and behavior far from equilibrium. Policy makers, university administrators, industry research and development executives dependent upon developments in CMPP, and scientists working in the field will find this book of interest.

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