Toward an International Materials Research Network
Status Report, January 2002

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Ongoing and Future Activities


Materials are more than mere components of modern tools - the basic properties of materials frequently define the capabilities, potential, reliability, and limitations of technology itself. Materials and processes will play an ever increasing role in improving energy efficiency, promoting environmental protection, lowering health-care costs, developing an information infrastructure, providing modern and reliable transportation and civil infrastructure systems, and strengthening security worldwide. Advances in materials science and engineering, therefore, enable progress across a broad range of scientific disciplines and technological areas with dramatic impacts on society.

Continued progress in materials science and engineering is increasingly dependent upon collaborative efforts among several different disciplines, as well as closer coordination among funding agencies and effective partnerships involving universities, industry, and national laboratories. Because of the interdependence of countries' national priorities, partnerships are not only important at the national level but from an international point of view as well.

With this in mind, the National Science Foundation has co-sponsored a series of five international workshops in materials research designed to stimulate enhanced collaboration among materials researchers and create networks linking the participating countries.

The first workshop, held in May 1995 in Saltillo, Mexico, involved scientists and engineers from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The workshop was organized by Dr. Leonel Cota Araiza, Instituto de Fisica, UNAM, Ensenada, Mexico; Prof. R.P.H. Chang, Northwestern University, Evanston. IL, USA; Dr. Manuel Mendez Nonell, CINVESTAV, Saltillo, Mexico; and Prof. Juan Sanchez, University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA, and was attended by 57 participants and observers from the three principal countries as well as Brazil, Chile, and Columbia. NSF was represented by William Harris, Adriaan de Graaf, Harold Stolberg, and Robert Wellek.

The second workshop, a joint National Science Foundation-European Commission venture, took place in December 1996 in Leuven, Belgium. The workshop was organized and chaired by Prof. Horst Czichos, President, BAM, Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Berlin, Germany; Prof. Bertrand Escaig, Laboratoire de Structures et Proprietes de l'Etat Solide, Universite des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, France; Prof. Jean-Pierre Celis, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium; Dr. Praveen Chaudhari and Dr. Mark Ketchen, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center; Prof. Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Dean, Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA; and Dr. James Williams, Dean, College of Engineering, Ohio State University. The workshop was attended by 72 scientists and engineers from EU member states. NSF representatives included Adriaan de Graaf, Lance Haworth, Jeanne Hudson, John Hunt, John Hurt, Elbert Marsh, and Thomas Weber.

The third workshop, involving participants from the U.S. and Pan American countries including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Venezuela, took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1998. The workshop was organized by Dr. Miguel Blesa, Comision Nacional de Energia Atomica, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Prof. Guillermo Solorzano, PUC, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Prof. Edgar Zanotto, Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Brazil; Prof. Guillermo Gonzalez -Moraga, Universidad de Chile. Santiago, Chile; Prof. R.P.H. Chang, Northwestern University, USA, and Dr. Kathleen Taylor, General Motors, USA and was attended by 79 participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the United States, and observers from Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The NSF was represented by Adriaan de Graaf, Robert Eisenstein, Raul Miranda, Harold Stolberg, Thomas Weber, and Robert Wellek.

The fourth workshop focused on the U.S. and Asian Pacific countries and was held in Hawaii in November 1998. The workshop was organized by Prof. Masao Doyama, Teikyo Unversity of Science and Technology, Japan; Prof. Minhua Jiang, Shandong University, China, Prof. Hyeong Joon Kim, Seoul National University, Korea; Prof. Jim Williams, The Australian National University, Australia; Dr. Nikolai Lyakhov, Siberian Materials Research Association, Russia; Prof. Lih J. Chen, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan; and Prof. R.P.H. Chang, Northwestern University, USA. The 81 participants and observers were from Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, and South Africa. NSF representatives included Adriaan de Graaf, Lance Haworth, Alice Hogan, George Strawn, Thomas Weber, and Robert Wellek.

A fifth workshop involving the U.S. and African countries took place in Pretoria, South Africa in August 2000. The workshop organizers were Prof. Ababacar Chedikh Beye, UCAD, Dakar, Senegal; Prof. Arthur Every, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; Dr. Joseph Gogo, STEPRI, CSIR, Ghana; Prof. Kavishe, Moi University, Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya; Prof. Marjorie Mujaji, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe; Prof. E.R. Sadiku (representing Nigeria), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa; Prof. Ron Sanderson, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa; Prof. Joseph Tesha, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Prof. A.J. Varkey, University of Swaziland, Kwaluseri, Swaziland; Prof. R.P.H. Chang, Northwestern University, USA; and Prof. Isiah Warner, Louisiana State University, USA. The number of participants and observers was 81 from Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, United States, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. NSF representatives included Joseph Bordogna, Adriaan de Graaf, Robert Eisenstein, Lance Haworth, Elbert Marsh, Wanda Ward, and Thomas Weber.

These workshops have involved close to 400 people from many countries, from government, from industry, and from universities. Their ideas, contributions, and support resulted in a set of high-quality workshop reports. The executive summaries of these reports are attached to this status report. The full reports of the workshops are available at

The idea for the workshops was conceived by the author and by Prof. R.P.H. Chang, Director of the Northwestern University Materials Research Center. Prof. Chang, who was the co-organizer of and the brains behind 4 of the 5 workshops, i.e., those held in Saltillo, Rio de Janeiro, Hawaii, and Pretoria, received support from NSF for this activity. The Leuven workshop was organized directly by the NSF and the EC. NSF staff who played significant roles in making the workshops the successes they were, include Alex DeAngelis, Lance Haworth, Alice Hogan, Jeanne Hudson, John Hunt, John Hurt, Harold Stolberg, Pat Tsuchitani, Thomas Weber, and Robert Wellek. The encouragement by NSF Director Neal Lane during the initial stages of this effort and the constant support by NSF Deputy Director Joseph Bordogna and NSF Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences Robert Eisenstein, have provided valuable stimuli to continue this important project, despite inevitable administrative and political obstacles. This effort has brought us closer to the ultimate goal of achieving an international materials network that facilitates the development of future technologies and provides future generations of young scientists and engineers throughout the world with greater opportunities.

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