Grand Challenges

The 2007 Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC) report, Directing Matter and Energy: Five Challenges for Science and the Imagination was the culmination of a series of BES-sponsored workshops that began in 2001. Over and over, the recommendations from these workshops described similar themes that in this new era of science, we would design, discover, and synthesize new materials and molecular assemblies through atomic scale control; probe and control photon, phonon, electron, and ion interactions with matter; perform multi-scale modeling that bridges the multiple length and time scales; and use the collective efforts of condensed matter and materials physicists, chemists, biologists, molecular engineers, and those skilled in applied mathematics and computer science. The roadblocks to progress, and the opportunities for truly transformational new understanding were distilled into five inter-related grand challenges. Each Energy Frontier Research Center addresses one or more of these grand challenges.

GC1: Control Electrons

Grand Challenge #1:
How do we control materials processes at the level of electrons?

GC2: Tailored Properties

Grand Challenge #2:
How do we design and perfect atom- and energy-efficient synthesis of revolutionary new forms of matter with tailored properties?

GC3: Emergent Properties

Grand Challenge #3:
How do remarkable properties of matter emerge from complex correlations of the atomic or electronic constituents and how can we control these properties?

GC4: Nanotechnology

Grand Challenge #4:
How can we master energy and information on the nanoscale to create new technologies with capabilities rivaling those of living things?

GC5: Non-equilibrium Properties

Grand Challenge #5:
How do we characterize and control matter away - especially very far away - from equilibrium?