The Army Research Office’s Synthesis and Processing program is seeking white papers on the topic of the creation of superior structural materials through creative combinations of 1) microstructure engineering in extreme yet precise conditions to obtain novel and far-from-equilibrium microstructures; 2) advanced microscopy, probes and other characterization tools; and 3) integrated computational materials engineering.

Although somewhat with tongue in cheek, Suveen N. Mathaudhu, the S&P program manager, says they are looking for concepts with “property limits envisioned only in comic book realms,” a reference to Captain America’s “Vibranium” shield that—at least in the comics and movies—could absorb kinetic energy.

Though Captain America’s shield was fantasized about 75 years ago, Mathaudhu says, “We are still searching for ways to synthesize and process materials with the ability to absorb or channel kinetic energy.” From a materials science perspective, he believes this can be accomplished by concurrent increases in strength and toughness. Mathaudhu, in particular, uses the example of the work Rob Ritchie’s group (at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab) has done with super strong and tough metallic glasses (see video above). He also points to the intellectual exchange about the challenges of making strong–tough materials between Ritchie and Yuris Szenis in Science (“The quest for stronger, tougher materials”).

So, if you think you have a vision for realizing a future of “indestructible” materials though state-of-the-art synthesis and processing tools and characterization strategies, contact Mathaudhu, at the Army Research Office in Durham, N.C. (suveen.mathaudhu(at)