Materials sciences research provides the foundation on which the economic well being of our high-tech society rests. The impact of advanced materials ranges dramatically over every aspect of our modern world from the minutiae of daily life to the grand scale of our national economy. Invariably, however, breakthroughs to new technologies trace their origin both to fundamental research in the basic properties of condensed matter and to applied research aimed at manipulating properties (structural, physical, chemical, electrical, magnetic, optical, etc.).
Increasingly, the frontiers of materials research include materials that are “strongly correlated,” characterized by strong coupling between a material’s electrons with other electrons, magnetism, or the material lattice itself. This coupling often results in novel behavior, such as superconductivity, that may lead to technologically important applications.
Another topic that has recently taken on greater importance is nanoscience: the science of matter at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. The ability to image, measure, model, and manipulate matter at the nanoscale is leading to new technologies that will impact virtually every sector of our economy and our daily lives.
Much ALS research also focuses on certain subcategories of condensed materials, including magnetic materials, polymers, semiconductors, and water.