Materials Science: Advancing the Next Revolution of “Stuff”

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September 9, 2016 | Originally published by Date Line: September 9 on

For millennia, materials have mattered—so much so that entire eras have been named for them. From the Stone Age to the Bronze Age to the Iron Age and beyond, breakthroughs in materials have defined what was technologically possible and fueled revolutions in fields as diverse as electronics, construction and medicine. Today, DARPA is pursuing the next big advances in this fundamentally important domain. Harnessing radical new tools—from ultrafast laser imagers to groundbreaking chemical synthesis approaches—DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO) is aggressively pursuing the development of novel materials with the potential to boost national security.

“DSO helped launch the modern discipline of materials science and engineering, in part by supporting the first materials-focused interdisciplinary laboratories in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” said DSO Director Stefanie Tompkins. “Since then we’ve stayed at the forefront of the materials revolution, funding seminal work in materials for platforms as diverse as integrated circuits, space-based telescopes, and jet engines. Now, we are moving into an entirely new space, where materials are constructed from atoms on up, to have completely unheard of combinations of properties.”

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