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


Journal Article (Review)

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. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kanatzidis, MG; Poeppelmeier, KR; Bobev, S; Guloy, AM; Hwu, SJ; Lachgar, A; Latturner, SE; Raymond, ; Schaak, E; Seo, DK; Sevov, SC; Stein, A; Dabrowski, B; Greedan, JE; Greenblatt, M; Grey, CP; Jacobson, AJ; Keszler, DA; Li, J; Subramanian, MA; Xia, Y; Cagin, T; Häussermann, U; Hughbanks, T; Mahanti, SD; Morgan, D; Spaldin, NA; Buhro, WE; Giammar, DE; Hollingsworth, JA; Johnson, DC; Nozik, AJ; Peng, X; Bedard, RL; Brese, NE; Cao, G; Dhingra, SS; Kagan, CR; Mitzi, DB; Geselbracht, MJ; Lisensky, GC; Lufaso, MW; Maggard, PA; Michael, O; Wilkinson, AP; zur Loye, HC; Egami, T; Hodges, JP; Martin, JD; Parise, JB; Toby, BH; Vanderah, TA; Burns, PC; Chan, JY; Meyer, AE; Murray, CB; Ramirez, AP; Ward, MD; Yu, L; Alario-Franco, MA; Battle, PD; Bein, T; Cahill, CL; Halasyamani, PS; Maignan, A; Seshadri, R

Published Date

  • January 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 / 1-2

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 133

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0079-6786

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.progsolidstchem.2007.02.002

Citation Source

  • Scopus