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Frontiers in Crystalline Matter: From Discovery to Technology
or as often happens, both—large single crystals of that material are needed for detailed study. Because of common heritage, shared resources, and strong educational bonds, it is natural to combine these related activities—the discovery and growth of crystalline materials (DGCM)—in a single study. The growth of thin, two-dimensional crystalline films also is included in this study because it shares many common scientific and technological goals with the growth of bulk, three-dimensional materials.
The research activities falling under the DGCM umbrella are broad, spreading over traditional academic disciplines such as chemistry, materials science, and physics and undertaken in institutions such as university, government, and industrial research laboratories. Research in DGCM covers subject matter such as electronic, magnetic, optical, and structural phenomena. This diversity notwithstanding, there is a clear identity associated with researchers involved in DGCM. As can be seen from the attendance at scientific conferences in this area, it is a fairly small community, with exacting and specific technical needs and educational requirements.
While academia, the national laboratories, and private industry all have important roles in this field, industrial research laboratories historically have provided a particularly critical environment for the flourishing of DGCM activities. There, technological advancement in sectors such as the semiconductor industry, optical communications, and displays has required not only applied research to improve the performance of materials such as silicon, glass, and liquid crystals but also basic research into their fundamental properties. Advances made in DGCM in these laboratories were the consequence of a continual interplay between device development and basic research in physics and chemistry as well as close contact among the relevant technical communities—the material scientists, the crystal growers, and the developers of technical devices. This environment also served as a critical training ground, where the specialized techniques needed for success were passed on to new generations of crystal growers.
Almost a century after the discovery of Bragg’s law, by which x-rays scattered from crystalline matter were used to establish its periodic structure, DGCM research not only has a strong legacy of foundational discovery but also retains great intellectual vitality, high technological relevance, and seemingly unending promise for discovery. The demand for crystals and new materials remains strong. The past 20 years have witnessed great advances in measurement capabilities in the United States across the whole range of facilities. At small and medium-size facilities, factors such as computer-assisted automation, new spectroscopies such as scanning probes, and the commercialization of diagnostic techniques have played a large role in driving demand for new materials. At the large national laboratories, several new U.S. synchrotron x-ray sources have been built, and new capabilities in neutron scattering have been installed at the National Institute of