Advanced Materials Science & Technology in China: A Roadmap to 2050
Materials form the milestones and the physical basis of civilization. There are many kinds of materials. With the development of society, material science and engineering has an urgent research and development mission due to the requirements of increasing materials variety and quality, meeting the different demands, efficient use of resources, minimizing the environment pollution, etc.
Human civilization is labeled by materials: Old Stone Age, New Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Silicon Age(or Electronic Age), which indicates the great impact of materials and related techniques on the development of human society. Nowadays, materials technology is the physical base and forerunner of the transportation, energy & power, resources & environment, electronic information, agriculture and construction, aviation, national defense and military, and many important national projects.
There are three mainstays in modern society: materials, energy and information. The need of social economic development on materials is wide and urgent. Demand of new materials is increasing due to the development of national core industry and high-tech. industry. Development of structural materials for energy equipments, energy storage and conversion materials is required to face the challenge of energy problem. Improvement of environment and realization of the harmonious development of human being and nature makes new demands on environmental friendly materials and environment control materials. New materials and production technology are demanded by the exhausted resources, and also the recycling of the materials is very important. Healthcare requires biomedical materials, which include medical apparatus, medical implant materials, drug control release materials and new materials for early diagnosis. Variety and high performance of the information materials are also desired. Higher and rigorous demands are to be satisfied in many key projects in the field of aeronautic and astronautic, as well as high performance weapon systems.
The major trends on the demand of advanced materials are listed here in the future. The demand of variety and kinds of materials will keep increasing; materials quality, reliability and cost will be focused; demand of energy materials, bio-medical materials, and environmental materials are urgent; more functions are required besides the pursuing of higher performance; less dependent on resources and less pollution and destruction of the environment are desired.
At present, the overall level of materials production and scientific research is relatively low in China and can not satisfy the demands of the economy and of social development; there exists a big disparity compared with the developed countries. Further, an independent system of materials research has not yet formed in China. China is already a large consumer of materials, and the productivity of conventional materials enhances very quickly. The output of most of the raw materials has already occupied the first place globally. However, many raw materials of high quality such as steel, aluminum, copper, cement, rubber, resin and glass still rely on import. All the traditional materials in China are now facing the problems of increasing quality, lowering cost, reducing energy consumption and upgrading, etc. Most of the new materials are imitating and only a small percent is original and possesses intellectual property rights.
Material science and engineering is a discipline that concerns the materials composition, manufacture & process, structure, property and materials service behavior. Today, the major trend of the development of material science and engineering includes: research and development of nanomaterials and nanomicrostructure is listed at the top of the research strategy of materials science. Materials technology concerning about information technology, biotechnology and energy technology is developed very fast, and attracts more attention. The research of optimizing materials properties by complexification or integration of different materials emerged one after another. Characterization and measurement of microstructure, new mechanisms and technology of super precision assembly and machining become a powerful motivation for the exploration of material science. More attention is paid to computational materials.
Nowadays development of economic society is facing the challenges of energy, resources, and environment. Ample attention should be given to the life cycle costs during research and application of materials, i. e. the materials should possess high performance and also should be easy for manufacturing and machining, at the same time, less dependence on resources and energy, and less pollution or destruction of environment. Therefore, the life cycle costs and control technology of the materials are the most important tasks with universality, urgency and long term view. These will also be the most important scientific problems that affect the development and modernization of our country. At present and in the future, in focusing on the whole life-cycle cost and cost-control, there are some core technology problems: (1) The prediction, design and control of usage behavior of materials: by clear understanding of relationship between structure and performance, accurate forecasts are carried out on material performance, leading to the realization of precise process-control and design; (2) Efficient recycling of material; (3) Integration of structure and function in materials; (4) Analysis and testing technique of materials.
Around 2050, a complete innovation system of materials science and technology will be established in China. The whole life-cycle, cost and cost-controlling will be the most important factors guiding the research & development and application of materials. Fundamental research, capability of new processing and equipment development will be the first class in the world. Fulfill the strategy transition from large materials country to strong materials country. The development of advanced materials can fully meet the requirement of high-technology, renewable energy sources, life & health and environmental protection. Development of the advanced materials can support and lead development of economy society.
To fulfill the targets listed above, breakthroughs of material science and technology in the future may include: (1) Development of computational materials science makes it possible to systematically and accurately understand the relationship between microstructure and properties, which makes it possible for performance prediction and materials design, and to control accurately the production process. (2) Various new materials such as new energy, information, biology materials, nanomaterials, and biomimetic materials, are studied and applied. Meanwhile, the properties of the traditional materials are improved. (3) The integration of materials structure and function will be realized. Smart materials and high intelligent multi-structure composite materials will be developed. (4) Energy-efficient will be realized in production of high quality raw materials. Green preparation of materials and low-cost, high-efficiency recycling technology will be widely used. (5) Continuous near-net-shape manufacturing technology, integration of apparatus technology, intelligent controllable processing will also be widely brought into operation. (6) Service behavior including property evolution and mechanisms under extreme conditions will be understood clearly. Failure process of materials and structural device could be estimated accurately. Process of the whole life cycle could be evaluated and the damage of materials could be monitored and repaired. (7) With the development of science and technology, in-situ measurement and characterization of large volume could be realized. (8) Materials data will be improved and systematization. The whole life-cycle, cost and cost-controlling will be considered during manufacturing, design and choice of materials. A perfect materials system with Chinese feature will be established.