Advanced Materials: Giving Soldiers a Decisive Edge in Combat

The science of advanced materials is increasingly providing the technological foundation for protecting our Nation’s warfighters.

Ballistic-resistant materials can deliver superior protection at a fraction of the weight of conventional materials.  Advanced electronics can augment a warfighter’s own observational capabilities by “seeing” and “hearing” through obstacles, offering persistent awareness of the enemy. At the same time, linked sensors can provide real-time information that military members can share across a network.  

In support of these and related goals, the Army is aggressively pursuing The Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials. The program, part of the Administration’s Materials Genome Initiative, is aimed at shaping the next generation of Army materials while also accelerating their time-to-market.

When the President announced the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) one year ago, his goal was to accelerate the time it takes to develop, build, and deploy into the marketplace the advanced materials needed to address society’s most urgent challenges. For our warfighters, the quick introduction of new materials is critical.

The new Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials program, led by the Army Research Laboratory, is taking a holistic perspective of materials, from atoms to applications. ARL scientists and engineers will engage in multi-disciplinary, collaborative research with their Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA) partners at the Johns Hopkins University, Rutgers University, University of Delaware, California Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah.

The goal of the program is to create a unique capability for the design of materials that are suitable for extreme dynamic environments and for use in novel electronic and electromagnetic devices. It is just one of a growing number of ways in which the MGI is addressing critical needs in national security and wide range of other domains.  By accelerating the deployment of new materials, our soldiers will be better equipped for combat while the Nation strengthens its position as a global leader in advanced manufacturing.

Reed Skaggs is a Senior Policy Analyst and Cyrus Wadia is Assistant Director for Clean Energy and Materials R&D at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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