Report from the third workshop on future directions of solid-state chemistry: The status of solid-state chemistry and its impact in the physical sciences

Mercouri G. Kanatzidis, Kenneth R. Poeppelmeier, Svilen Bobev, Arnold M. Guloy, Shiou Jyh Hwu, Abdou Lachgar, Susan E. Latturner, [No Value] Raymond, E. Schaak, Dong Kyun Seo, Slavi C. Sevov, Andreas Stein, Bogdan Dabrowski, John E. Greedan, Martha Greenblatt, Clare P. Grey, Allan J. Jacobson, Douglas A. Keszler, Jing Li, Mas A. SubramanianYounan Xia, Tahir Cagin, Ulrich Häussermann, Timothy Hughbanks, S. D. Mahanti, Dane Morgan, Dong Kyun Seo, Nicola A. Spaldin, William E. Buhro, Daniel E. Giammar, Jennifer A. Hollingsworth, David C. Johnson, Arthur J. Nozik, Xiaogang Peng, Robert L. Bedard, Nathaniel E. Brese, Guang Cao, Sandeep S. Dhingra, Cherie R. Kagan, David B. Mitzi, Margret J. Geselbracht, George C. Lisensky, Michael W. Lufaso, Paul A. Maggard, O'Keeffe Michael, Angus P. Wilkinson, Hans Conrad zur Loye, Takeshi Egami, John E. Greedan, Jason P. Hodges, James D. Martin, John B. Parise, Brian H. Toby, Terrell A. Vanderah, Peter C. Burns, Julia Y. Chan, Anne E. Meyer, Christopher B. Murray, Arthur P. Ramirez, Michael D. Ward, Lian Yu, Miguel A. Alario-Franco, Peter D. Battle, Thomas Bein, Christopher L. Cahill, P. Shiv Halasyamani, Antoine Maignan, Ram Seshadri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Foreword: Public awareness of solid-state chemistry, or more broadly solid-state science and technology rapidly grew along with the transistor revolution and the development of the integrated circuit. We are now at the half-way point in the solid state century [Scientific American The Solid-State Century 1997;8(1) [special issue]], a period of the last 50 years when the term "solid state electronics" was in general vernacular and "solid state" was prominently stamped on consumer electronics appliances, almost as a synonym for "advanced" or "modern.". Clearly without the Bell Labs discovery of the first transistor, which boosted an electrical signal a 100-fold, our personal computers would not be possible, and the information age it spawned would never have happened. It is clear with hindsight that those individuals, companies, regions and nations that have embraced the new information technology have flourished. At the present time the solid-state age does not show any sign of stopping. In this the second half of the century, we have chips with 10 million transistors, solar photovoltaics and all-solid-state lighting, cell phones, displays, data storage, the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) revolutionizing power electronics, and enthusiasm is high for quantum-optical devices which may begin to dominate new technology. The goal of the Solid State Chemistry Workshop was to assess the current state of solid-state chemistry and explore its impact on allied disciplines as well as industry. In this report we articulate the solid-state chemistry community's sense of the future opportunities and directions and make several recommendations. The findings of this workshop could act as a vehicle for informing the solid-state chemistry community of programs and opportunities for support at NSF and elsewhere. This report aims to identify research directions in solid-state chemistry closely aligned with emerging or potential technologies, as well as areas of original research that could lead to new advances in materials science, solid-state physics and the solid-state sciences in general. Of course, judgment must be exercised to distinguish which of such efforts have true fundamental value, and sufficient patience must be accorded for fundamental research to ultimately bring about new technologies. A major societal impact of the solid state and materials chemistry community is the education of students who are able to excel in multidisciplinary areas crucial to the competitiveness of American industry. Solid state and materials chemistry by its nature, with its interdisciplinary history, has the ability to prepare and educate its graduates to excel in a wide variety of industries including the fields of energy, pharmaceuticals, optical materials and all manner of electronic devices, and nano and biotechnology. Since by their nature emerging technologies depend on the discovery of new materials and their properties, individuals with training in solid-state chemistry are key members of research teams and companies developing these technologies. Which scientific disciplines are affected most by what goes on in solid-state chemistry? The focus of the proposed workshop was two-fold, we sought a close look at the discipline of solid-state chemistry in the beginning of the third millennium and explored its continued impact and relationship with allied disciplines in the physical sciences and also industry. This report highlights a number of accomplishments, emerging research directions and areas requiring increased effort but is not meant to be all inclusive and it is certain that we have left out a number of important aspects. An assessment of how solid-state chemistry is impacting the physical sciences, through continuing advances and the many ways of interacting across disciplinary boundaries, could help the National Science Foundation and the scientific community better appreciate its value and contributions in the greater scientific and societal context. The report also includes discussions of existing and new modes for educating students, and the development and use of national facilities for performing state-of-the-art research in our field. A critical enabler of this societal benefit has been funding from the NSF and other agencies in this area, in particular our nation's premier national user facilities. Recommendations: 1. There is great interest in developing methodologies for synthesis of materials with intended functionalities. To continue the pace of progress solid-state chemistry has enjoyed in the past we recommend sustained support for exploratory synthesis and directed synthesis aimed at new materials' discoveries and the development of methodological and design principles. Syntheses assisted by theory and modeling are only still emerging and should be encouraged. 2. Structure-property relationships are the fundamental underpinning of solid-state sciences. Be they experimental or theoretical, efforts and ideas that will make advances in this area should be supported with sustained funding from the Foundation. 3. The Foundation should encourage and support outreach ideas aimed at explaining, promoting and projecting the place and significance of solid-state chemistry to society. This could be done under the umbrella of Centers or smaller special projects. 4. Fundamental research and materials discovery emanating from NSF and other agency support of solid-state chemistry in academia ultimately affects the strength of industry and therefore the economy. Where appropriate, the NSF should seek the advice of industrial experts in solid-state chemistry as a development tool in formulating potential research directions. In addition existing programs aimed at supporting academic-industry collaborations leveraging industry resources and providing graduate students with goal-driven perspectives are viewed favorably. 5. Solid state and materials chemistry research will extract maximum benefit from NSF funding of personnel and support activities in national facilities. These often unique facilities enable the solution of important problems in solid-state chemistry. Greater utilization of these facilities is limited by lack of expertise on the use of these techniques amongst solid-state chemists and limited user support from the facilities. The NSF has an important role to play as an advocate for the needs of solid-state chemistry to the facilities. 6. The NSF should consider and implement mechanisms for supporting collaborative research between the solid-state sciences and investigators in far-ranging fields, which may require creative funding mechanisms involving other agencies. 7. Programs within NSF that foster collaborative research with international PIs, groups or Institutes such as the Materials World Network should be supported. Also recommended is funding for short term overseas career development 'sabbaticals' for faculty and increases in the number of US postdoctoral fellowships for positions abroad with a well-defined NSF affiliation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-133
Number of pages133
JournalProgress in Solid State Chemistry
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The ICMR was created at the UCSB on August 1, 2004 to provide an international forum that convenes scientists and engineers with common interests in the future of materials science. The Center is funded by the Division of Materials Research, the Office of International Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation, the Materials Research Laboratory, and UCSB. Its partner institutions include the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), and the International Center for Young Scientists (Tsukuba). Programs include: workshops in Santa Barbara and overseas, exchange programs, and summer schools.

Funding Information:
Of necessity, the US invests billions of dollars in the construction of user facilities in order to create world-class sources. The sources in turn require instruments, which typically cost millions of dollars to build. One or two scientists usually staff these instruments, sometimes with a technician, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many user facilities run summer schools or training workshops (which usually provide overviews rather than comprehensive instruction) at a further cost in the range of tens of thousands of dollars. While facilities typically develop some data reduction software in house, data analysis software has typically been produced as a labor of love, with essentially zero “official” funding. A noteworthy new development is the DANSE project, which was recently funded by the NSF. The goals of this project are to integrate existing software packages into the data analysis framework to be used at the SNS; however, little if any new software is expected from this effort. A larger investment in software development would facilitate greater impact of the foundational investment in the equipment and facilities themselves, and would enable increased use by a broader contingent of scientists.

Funding Information:
National security is integral to the Department of Energy's broad mission: “National, Economic and Energy Security.” Nanoscience and solid-state chemistry research is being conducted in support of (and supported by) the national-security interests of the intelligence and defense communities as described above. More generally, however, nanoscience is the scientific thrust behind the establishment of five new national user facilities: The Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Molecular Foundry, The Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven National Laboratories, The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and The Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Lab. At these facilities, an interdisciplinary group of researchers is available for collaboration at various levels with members of the larger solid-state chemistry, nanoscience, and materials communities.

Funding Information:
In order to train students to effectively join the global workplace, collaborations with international solid state and materials chemistry groups can offer an invaluable opportunity for cultural and scientific exchange. Research groups in different countries may offer a different approach to science as well as different priorities of current challenges within the field. These collaborations will most naturally arise through contacts between individual research groups and could involve undergraduates, graduate students or postdoctoral researchers. Providing ready access to such international learning opportunities would benefit the solid-state community as a whole. Potential mechanisms for funding these opportunities include the International Office of Science and Engineering, the Materials World Network, and joint funding with foreign counterparts.

Funding Information:
The NSF, in conjunction with groups of individual PIs has a unique opportunity to contribute to the development of small to intermediate scale components to facilitate research under non-ambient, extreme and/or in situ conditions. While much of the initial major instrumentation at neutron and synchrotron facilities is funded by the DOE, there are critical sample environment and detector needs, often more experiment-specific, which must evolve with the progress of research and which the NSF is encouraged to support. For example, the worldwide interest in high-pressure research is improving our fundamental understanding of the behavior of materials and is of particular interest to those studying geological processes. This research requires the development/acquisition of high-pressure cells as well as integrated structural/analytical probes for materials characterization. In situ catalytic and separations studies require sample environments with variable temperature/pressure capabilities as well as reactive-gas manifolds. Studies of reaction mechanisms, nucleation and growth, as well as structural dynamics and distortions require the purchase and development of ever faster and more sensitive detectors to exploit the research possible with high energy/intensity synchrotron and neutron facilities. A coordinated effort to support the science and unique instrumental needs of special-environment data-collection capabilities is extremely critical for advancement at these frontiers.

Funding Information:
The European Science Foundation receives increasing amounts of funding to sponsor basic research, for example through the EUROCORES program. As a part of a structured approach to EUROCORES development, the ESF invites new and challenging ideas for EUROCORES programs (EUROCORES theme proposals) from the scientific community. Such “bottom-up” EUROCORES theme proposals can be submitted to the ESF once a year. After a selection process of EUROCORES theme proposals, the ESF seeks agreement with interested funding organizations on the scientific scope and participation in each EUROCORES program.


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