The featured and free-of-charge paper in the December issue of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society is the promised report from the NSF-funded workshop held last spring to identify the emerging grand challenges of ceramic science. In the paper, the 26 coauthors describe and explain the significance of the eight challenges that they identified. Lead author, Greg Rohrer, organized and led the workshop, which we reported on earlier.
The paper is “open access” (i.e., no ACerS membership or login required) and titled “Challenges in Ceramic Science: A Report from the Workshop on Emerging Research Areas in Ceramic Science,” by G.S. Rohrer, et. al, JACerS, dpi: 10.1111/jace.12033.
A workshop like this was long overdue. The last such formal effort to identify emerging grand challenges was in 1997 and since then the field has experienced some “truly transformational changes.” In particular, the characterization tools available today allow researchers to peer into materials on scales and in ways that were not available back then. Similarly, advances in processing and synthesis methods, as well as important strides in modeling and simulation, mean that “the landscape for ceramics research has changed dramatically in the past 15 years, and this is an appropriate time to consider challenges for the future.”
To ensure a comprehensive assessment of the field, participants considered composites, oxides, nonoxides, and glasses, and each ceramic material category is represented in the resulting challenges: Composites (1-3), oxides (4, 5), nonoxides (6, 7), and glasses (8).
The peer-reviewed paper includes an extensive bibliography to support the science that underpins the grand challenges.
The eight challenges are
1. Understanding rare events in ceramic microstructures
2. Understanding the phaselike behavior of interfaces
3. Predicting and controlling heterogeneous microstructures with unprecedented functionalities
4. Controlling the properties of oxide electronics
5. Understanding defects in the vicinity of interfaces
6. Controlling ceramics far from equilibrium
7. Accelerating the development of new ceramic materials
8. Harnessing order within disorder in glasses
In addition, I just learned that Rohrer has teamed up with University of California, Santa Barbara chemist, Ram Seshadri, to organize a workshop to address the multidisciplinary aspects of materials-by-design, and specifically, within the context of the Materials Genome Initiative. For example, how can ceramists, geoscientists, materials theorists, and solid state chemists improve communication between their disciplines? After all, even though these groups investigate similar materials and start from the same fundamental principles, they tend to publish in different journals, go to different conferences, and think in terms of different applications.
The workshop will also look at ways materials discovery can be accelerated with ideas emerging from other fields, such as high-throughput synthesis and big data. Tentative themes to be discussed at the workshop include nanomaterials; clusters, hybrids, and material-molecule interactions; high pressures and epitaxial stabilization; high-throughput methods and data mining; new synthesis approaches; and energy.
This Materials by Design workshop will be held Feb. 21 and 22. Attendance is by invitation only (and have already been extended), but similar to last year’s workshop, the process and product of it are intended to be transparent. The workshop’s findings also will be published as an article in a journal. For more information, contact organizers, Greg Rohrer or Ram Seshadri.