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For much of the past 60 years, the U.S. research community dominated the discovery of new crystalline materials and the growth of large single crystals, placing the country at the forefront of fundamental advances in condensed-matter sciences and fueling the development of many of the new technologies at the core of U.S. economic growth. The opportunities offered by future developments in this field remain as promising as the... more...

The growing problem of changing environmental conditions caused by climate destabilization is well recognized as one of the defining issues of our time. The root problem is greenhouse gas emissions, and the fundamental solution is curbing those emissions. Climate geoengineering has often been considered to be a "last-ditch" response to climate change, to be used only if climate change damage should produce extreme hardship. Although... more...

Faced with the steady rise in energy costs, dwindling fossil fuel supplies, and the need to maintain a healthy environment - exploration of alternative energy sources is essential for meeting energy needs. Biological systems employ a variety of efficient ways to collect, store, use, and produce energy. By understanding the basic processes of biological models, scientists may be able to create systems that mimic biomolecules and produce... more...

Physics at the beginning of the twenty-first century has reached new levels of accomplishment and impact in a society and nation that are changing rapidly. Accomplishments have led us into the information age and fueled broad technological and economic development. The pace of discovery is quickening and stronger links with other fields such as the biological sciences are being developed. The intellectual reach has never been greater, and the questions... more...

Since 1991, the National Research Council, under the auspices of the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, has undertaken a program of activities to improve policymakers' understandings of the interconnections of science, technology, and economic policy and their importance for the American economy and its international competitive position. The Board's activities have corresponded with increased policy recognition of the... more...


The development of transistors, the integrated circuit, liquid-crystal displays, and even DVD players can be traced back to fundamental research pioneered in the field of condensed-matter and materials physics (CMPP). The United States has been a leader in the field, but that status is now in jeopardy. Condensed-Matter and Materials Physics, part of the Physics 2010 decadal survey project, assesses the present state of the field in the... more...

Scientists and engineers have long relied on the power of imaging techniques to help see objects invisible to the naked eye, and thus, to advance scientific knowledge. These experts are constantly pushing the limits of technology in pursuit of chemical imaging&#8212the ability to visualize molecular structures and chemical composition in time and space as actual events unfold&#8212from the smallest dimension of a biological... more...

As part of its current physics decadal survey, Physics 2010, the NRC was asked by the DOE, NSF, and NASA to carry out an assessment of and outlook for the broad field of plasma science and engineering over the next several years. The study was to focus on progress in plasma research, identify the most compelling new scientific opportunities, evaluate prospects for broader application of plasmas, and offer guidance to realize these... more...

On October 11, 2000, a breakthrough of Martin County Coal Corporation’s coal waste impoundment released 250 million gallons of slurry in near Inez, Kentucky. The 72-acre surface impoundment for coal processing waste materials broke through into a nearby underground coal mine. Although the spill caused no loss of human life, environmental damage was significant, and local water supplies were disrupted. This incident prompted Congress to request the... more...