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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Frontiers of Materials Research: A Decadal Survey
Frontiers of Materials Research: A Decadal Survey
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Statement of Task
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Statement of Task


The Academies shall prepare a report that will articulate the status and promising future directions of materials research (MR) in the United States in the context of similar efforts world-wide. For this assessment, MR will be considered broadly in terms of material type, forms/structure, property, and phenomenon, as well as the full breadth of approaches to MR (e.g., experiment, theory, computation, modeling and simulation, instrument/technique development, synthesis, characterization, etc.). In particular, the report will examine:

  • Assess the progress and achievements in MR over the past decade;
  • Identify the principal changes in the research and development landscape for MR in the United States and internationally over the past decade, and how those changes have impacted MR;
  • Identify MR areas that offer promising investment opportunities and new directions for the period 2020-2030 or have major scientific gaps;
  • Identify fields in MR that may be good candidates for transition to support by other disciplines, applied R&D sponsors, or industry;
  • Identify the impacts that MR has had and is expected to have on emerging technologies, national needs, and science, broadly;
  • Identify challenges that MR may face over the next decade and offer guidance to the materials research community for addressing those challenges; and
  • Evaluate recent trends in investments in MR in the United States relative to similar research that is taking place internationally by using a limited number of case studies of representative areas of MR that have either experienced significant recent growth or are anticipated to see significant near-term growth. Based on those trends, recommend steps the United States might take to either secure leadership or to enhance collaboration and coordination of such research support, where appropriate, for identified subfields of MR.

In addition to the five full committee meetings, the committee will engage in extensive data gathering.  Data gathering for the project will consist of:

  1. A review of relevant published literature,
  2. Invited presenters at the committee's public meetings,
  3. Sustained engagement with the materials research communities, and
  4. Commissioned papers.

The project will conduct a review of the literature related to aspects of the issues to be addressed by the project, which will include previous work (such as seminal reports) done in the last decade by other non-for-profits, societies, and foreign entities.

The project will engage in sustained efforts to solicit broad input from relevant communities. These outreach efforts will include sessions at geographically dispersed locations across the United States, and may include town halls, professional meetings, solicitation of white papers, and aggressive use of electronic communications and networks.

The committee will commission up to three in-depth reviews of topics central to the Statement of Task.