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Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
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3

Chemical Sciences Division

The Chemical Sciences Division supports research to discover and understand the fundamental properties, principles, and processes governing molecules and their interactions in materials or chemical systems to provide the scientific foundation to create revolutionary capabilities for the future warfighter, such as new protective and responsive materials, sensors, and munitions.1 The division’s core budget of $9.4 million was leveraged against a $41.7 million investment by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and other Department of Defense (DoD) programs and agencies in the chemical sciences domain. During fiscal year (FY) 2018, a total of 87 single investigator (SI) awards were funded along with 24 Short-Term Innovative Research (STIR) awards focused on jump-starting high-risk projects. Four programs were reviewed: Reactive Chemical Systems, Electrochemistry, Molecular Structure and Dynamics, and Polymer Chemistry.

In general, the division’s metrics are strong, with 751 peer-reviewed publications in the FY 2016 to 2018 period, and funding for 354 graduate students and 171 postdoctoral researchers during the FY 2017 to 2018 period. However, most impressive for a program focused on outcomes for the Army was the number of successful transitions from bench to application. There were 56 transitions reported for the 3-year period from FY 2016 to 2018, including the development of several commercial products and start-ups based on the science and technology supported by the Chemical Sciences Division. The transition of fundamental chemical science research funded by the Army Research Office (ARO) to applications developed in the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) intramural laboratories is another good indicator of the success of this program.

REACTIVE CHEMICAL SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Overall Scientific Quality and Degree of Innovation

The Reactive Chemical Systems Program supports three Army functional concepts: to understand chemical mechanisms for sustainment and maneuver support, to explore new materials for maneuver support and mission command, and to discover new materials and properties for sustainment. The research objectives of the program are (1) to attain a mechanistic understanding of mass transport, adsorption, and reactivity on surfaces and at interfaces; (2) to create chemically and biologically functionalized surfaces with precise control of structure and function; and (3) to rationally design and assemble synthetic molecular systems that sense and respond to external stimuli.

There is no doubt that opportunities for innovation in the program are significant and that the research supported is interesting and novel, but it is of some concern that the sponsored work may be duplicated in other funding agencies, such as Department of Energy’s (DOE) catalysis science program. Nevertheless, when properly guided, this research can have a major impact on the development of new technologies that

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1 Army Research Laboratory, Army Research Office, https://www.arl.army.mil/www/default.cfm?page=217, accessed October 1, 2019.

Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×

are critical to the Army. The research highlighted included the application of single-molecule fluorescence microscopy to analyze catalytic activity in individual metal nanorods, the development and understanding of abiotic-biotic interfaces for water-free biologics, the design and fabrication of a liquid-cell transmission electron microscope that led to the in situ observation of radical polymerization, and a self-regulating system based on a liquid crystal-water interface where antibiotics trapped in the liquid crystal phase are released into the water by mechanical disruption caused by mobile bacteria, which, in turn, are killed by the cargo released. In addition to the scientific outcomes from this work, tangible evidence for immediate impact also comes from the training of scientists who now are engaged in research at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and elsewhere. The support available for high-risk projects (for example, the STIR program projects) and conferences are critical, respectively, to identify high-risk, high-return projects and to maintain the vitality of science of interest to the Army Research Office (ARO).

Scientific Opportunity

Considering that surfaces and interfaces are ubiquitous and differ widely in chemical and physical complexity, they afford many opportunities for scientific development and technological advances. Noteworthy examples were presented with a focus on strategies for developing stimuli-responsive systems that may be capable of triggering sensing or protective functions. The specific systems and tools illustrate a range of applications that represent the tip of an iceberg, suggesting that one of the challenges of this program will be to focus its efforts on high-impact areas. The examples covered suggest that the objectives of the program are being met. They include the ability to observe single-catalytic events by taking advantage of single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, which revealed long-range cooperativity on scales of time and distance that could not have been anticipated from current paradigms, and that open the door for further testing on these and other nanomaterials. Other examples address strategies to mimic the solvent environment in immobilized enzymes and stimuli-bioresponsive systems that lead to signal amplification on liquid-liquid crystal interfaces. Strategies to strengthen and invest in promising thrust areas while decreasing support or even removing areas of limited interest to the scientific community would help focus the program’s efforts.

Significant Accomplishments

The accomplishments described in the report ARO in Review 2018 represent significant scientific advances.2 It is noteworthy that a diverse set of investigators at varying career stages were involved in that work. The projects cover a broad cross section of catalysis using metal-organic frameworks, metal carbide MXenes, metal-supported catalysts, assembly and disassembly of polymer materials, and advanced characterization techniques. Although it is difficult to determine the ingenuity and impact of the work done by the investigators involved based on project titles alone, members of the panel are familiar with the work done by many of these principal investigators (PIs), and it is of very high quality. The metrics presented in terms of number of papers published, student and postdoctoral researchers trained, and transitions of the projects are indicative of a well-managed program.

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2 Army Research Laboratory, Army Research Office, https://www.arl.army.mil/www/pages/172/docs/AROinReview2018-online.pdf, accessed October 3, 2019.

Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×

Relevance and Transitions

This program has had a substantial level of success, as indicated by a significant number of transitions in the form of personnel development as well as accomplishments adopted by Army and industrial customers for a number of diverse applications. These transitions highlight the importance of the successes that have resulted from the basic chemical science research funded by this program. Examples of such transitions include development by TDA Research of an advanced detergent formulation—SSDX12—that is used by FDNY HazMat Battalion as an all-hazards, nonreactive decontaminant; and the development at Northwestern University of an automated piezo-based instrument for depositing liquid droplets that Scienion is making commercially available.

Additional Considerations

The presentations made were of excellent quality. The objectives of the program are appropriate, and good science has been done. However, the title of the Reactive Chemical Systems Program does not encompass the breadth and complexity of the science it sponsors, which involves multifunctional surfaces and assemblies for advanced materials applications. This may limit the degree to which a large part of the relevant component of the academic community is aware of the program’s activities.

The work highlighted is of high quality and fits well within the main objectives of the program, but the selection of projects for funding, which is heavily influenced by the program manager, needs to be reassessed by ARO.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY PROGRAM

Overall Scientific Quality and Degree of Innovation

The Electrochemistry Program has three major scientific objectives: (1) to synthesize and characterize new electrolyte species so as to better understand transport in heterogeneous charged environments; (2) to understand how material and morphology affect electron transfer and electrocatalysis; and (3) to explore new methods for controlling electrochemistry. These objectives are clearly relevant to the Army. They relate to the development of improved sensors, batteries, and fuel cells.

The program’s decision to decrease its emphasis on catalysis under acidic conditions is well justified, based on the availability of nonnoble metal catalyst materials. Also well justified is the plan to decrease the emphasis on lithium-based energy storage, which is an area that is being massively supported by other agencies. The decision to increase the resources devoted to electrodeless electrochemistry is a high-risk investment aimed at clarifying the phenomena associated with plasma-generated solvated electrons, and their coupling with double-layer phenomena and electrochemical reactions. The continued development of additional experimental and simulation methods to characterize this novel, complex system will contribute to a better understanding of the underlying phenomena, and will strengthen the scientific impact of the work done in pursuit of this objective.

The program incorporates a healthy blend of fundamental science supporting new applications and high-risk projects that, if successful, will lead to new ways of controlling redox chemistry. It is going to be facing stiff competition, especially from the DOE, but it has carved out several unique opportunities that are relevant to the ARO mission. Of the awards it made during FY 2016 to 2018, 31 were relevant to objective 1and 42 were relevant to objective 2 (see above), and in that same interval, 7 awards were made that relate to objective 3, which is an emerging area for the program.

Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×

Scientific Opportunity

There are already examples of research accomplishments indicating that the program’s scientific objective will be met. One example is the high-throughput discovery and characterization of a complex oxide catalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction; this oxygen reduction reaction project began as a Young Investigator Program (YIP) and is now a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). The next step will be to employ these methods to generate solid-oxide fuel cells capable of using complex hydrocarbon fuels that are relevant to the Army. A second example is the work in cascade catalysis starting from enzymes to synthetic molecular catalysts, which is a true breakthrough. This particular MURI team comprises experts in synthesis, electrochemistry, and modeling, and is a fine example of how multidisciplinary approaches can greatly accelerate the advance of science. With regard to highest priority work, efforts in multivalent “beyond Li-ion” are high risk but would have high impact if successful.

Significant Accomplishments

The examples mentioned in the previous subsection represent significant scientific advances. Moreover, although not highlighted in the presentation, the work being supported on interfacial electron-transfer dynamics in chromophore assemblies is also game changing with regard to solar-cell design and photoredox catalysis. Electrochemical C—C bond activation in alkaline environments also is a significant advance. There are a couple of accomplishments that, while significant, may diverge from the program’s stated objectives: probing catalytic sites for the oxygen evolution reaction by scanning electrochemical microscopy, and solid-state protonic conductors. In all cases presented, however, the accomplishments of the PIs reflect productivity and ingenuity on the part of the teams they are leading. It is encouraging that the program manager (PM) contributes intellectually to the planning of these teams so as to refine their specific aims in such a way as to align them with the program objectives. The STIR program is used to explore new directions and higher risk projects.

Relevance and Transitions

A rethinking of energy conversion and storage needs that focuses on how warfighters operate is of significant interest to the Army. Accordingly, the five or so significant transitions to other areas of Army research serve as concrete examples of this interest. These transitions include carbon dioxide model, salt-induced protective cathodes, TiO2 transient absorption, synthesis of transition metal dichalcogenide photoelectrodes, and synthesized new block copolymer anion conductive membranes. In addition, the transitions to the private sector (companies and venture capital) and complementary laboratories (DOE, National Renewable Energy Laboratory) show impact.

Additional Considerations

A sharp focus on fuels and energy storage is a particular strength. Basic research in the oxygen-evolution or oxygen-reduction reactions could be coupled with their fuel-forming redox partners to generate the most impactful science and differentiate this program from other funded National Science Foundation (NSF) and DOE efforts.

Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×

MOLECULAR STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS PROGRAM

Overall Scientific Quality and Degree of Innovation

The objectives of the research supported by the Molecular Structure and Dynamics Program are (1) to achieve quantum-state control in the preparation of molecules for state-to-state studies of reaction dynamics and intermolecular forces; (2) to develop novel theoretical paradigms for elaborating chemical properties and reaction propensities with unprecedented accuracy and efficiency; and (3) to discover new energetic materials that surpass the capabilities offered by the best substances currently available.

The program manager outlined several examples of innovative endeavors that collectively span the following Army functional concepts: movement and maneuver, fires, maneuver support, intelligence, and sustainment. The highlighted studies of inelastic scattering have the potential to impact multiple scientific domains of programmatic interest (including quantum computing and energetic materials) while simultaneously offering singular information for assessing and refining theoretical scattering models. Overarching concepts emerging from fundamental studies of intermolecular interactions have been exploited to discover new families of energetic materials based on melt-castable co-crystallization motifs and hydrogen-peroxide hydrates—all of which have superior performance metrics. New computational tools based on remarkably efficient implementations of the two-electron reduced-density matrix ansatz have been demonstrated that have made it possible to carry out quantitative investigations of strongly correlated molecular systems (e.g., transition-metal catalysts) that are cannot be studied effectively using canonical quantum-chemical methods. An effort that utilized pulsed electrical discharges in cryogenic liquid nitrogen to generate new nitrogen polymers/allotropes and other novel nitrogen-based materials afforded a good example of discovery-oriented research that offers the tantalizing possibility of creating hitherto inaccessible energetic materials capable of breaching the energy-density limitations of conventional organic compounds.

The overall program of research is innovative, involving a unique combination of cutting-edge experimental and theoretical work that has enormous potential for making discoveries that will have far-reaching implications. While similar endeavors may be supported by other funding agencies, the distinctive nature of the collective efforts supported by this program, as evidenced by the specific combinations of molecules and processes curated by the program manager, ensures that the projects supported by this program will be steered actively toward ARO programmatic goals.

Scientific Opportunity

The wide range of studies pursued in this program offer unique opportunities for technical innovation and conceptual advancement on many fronts. The support being provided to both experimental and theoretical groups is unique and could be further fostered, as could efforts to identify early-career PIs whose fledgling programs can often embody the most inventive ideas. The studies of plasma-based syntheses in liquid nitrogen have provided intriguing evidence for the creation of novel polynitrogen compounds that are stable under ambient pressures, yet capable of storing enormous amounts of chemical energy. This work would benefit from more detailed experimental and theoretical analyses designed to fully characterize the species being created, and to assay their ultimate utility for programmatic goals.

Significant Accomplishments

The accomplishments highlighted by the program manager (and described briefly above) are noteworthy and represent significant advances in the conceptual understanding of molecules and their interactions, as well as in the development of experimental tools and theoretical methods that offer unprecedented capabilities for unraveling complex molecular phenomena. The fundamental information

Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×

emerging from studies like these can establish new paradigms for controlling and manipulating chemistry in ways that were not previously considered—as demonstrated by the relatively new thrust in the area of energetic materials.

The list of PIs supported by the Molecular Structure and Dynamics Program includes many well-known experimental and theoretical chemists, and the titles of their projects mesh well with the stated programmatic goals of the Army. Efforts to identify early-career investigators with newly established research programs are evident and presumably will be continued.

In addition to the tangible metrics of scientific impact (as gauged by peer-reviewed journal publications) and training of technical personnel (in the form of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows), significant transitions of materials and concepts to facilities operated by the Army, other DoD and DOE agencies, and private industry were highlighted. Some examples include the following: a patent for CL-20:H2O2 co-crystal; distribution of SAPT code to 834 registered users; Manzara Therapeutics’ engagement in peptide discovery for therapeutics; and customers using automated kinetics code EStokTP and NOx mechanism in proprietary research.

Relevance and Transitions

The Molecular Structure and Dynamics Program has enjoyed a substantial number of successes, as gauged by the transitions of projects it has initiated. These transitions include the transfer of fundamental concepts, novel materials, and trained personnel to Army facilities and other DoD and DOE sites, as well as the establishment of several ventures with private industry. These successes provide clear evidence of the innovative nature of results emerging from this program, and demonstrate the crucial importance of continued funding for basic chemical sciences.

Additional Considerations

A particular strength of the Molecular Structure and Dynamics Program at ARO is the strong overlap between experiment and theory in the projects it supports. This synergy needs to be fostered and promoted—perhaps even by granting awards to multiple investigators who can bring unique skills—for example, new experimental tools and emerging theoretical methods—to bear on problems of programmatic interest.

The new thrust in energetic materials is especially promising, and particularly relevant to Army objectives. No areas of decreasing emphasis were identified during the overview presentation by the program manager, and the PM needs to more fully identify funding sources that will help keep the exciting work this program is sponsoring in novel energetic materials growing. It could be that untapped relationships exist between these experimental projects and the consistently strong work that is being done in control of quantum molecular processes that is supported by theory. There may be opportunities to blend scholarly efforts in the synthesis of energetic materials with the advances in spectroscopic methods to probe and elaborate key structure-property correlations.

POLYMER CHEMISTRY PROGRAM

Overall Scientific Quality and Degree of Innovation

The Polymer Chemistry Program supports high-quality, innovative research that is being carried out by excellent PIs. There is a very good mixture of projects that span a wide range of modern polymer science. The program extensively leverages funding sources such as MURIs and increasingly the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The

Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×

program is doing very well as measured by its funding leverage, collaborations, relevance to Army programmatic needs, peer-reviewed publications, students and postdoctoral researchers supported, and transitions of technology and concepts to both DoD and private organizations.

The Polymer Chemistry Program has four interrelated scientific objectives: (1) to create polymers with precise control over molecular structure and composition (sometimes called the holy grail of polymer synthesis), with a goal of creating synthetic polymers that have the kind of structural and functional complexity characteristic of proteins; (2) to determine how molecular structure impacts morphology and properties; (3) to devise strategies for controlling polymer assembly to render complex functional materials; and (4) to create polymeric materials that exhibit precise programmed responses to external stimuli. Thus, this program addresses some of the most fundamental needs in polymer chemistry, ranging from the development of synthetic methods capable of controlling polymer chain sequence and catalysts to synthesize stereo-regular polymers from polar monomers, the interfacing of synthetic polymers with biological materials to bring beneficial enzymatic functions into nonnatural contexts, and the development of controlled polymerization and depolymerization methods.

The program strategy will be to place greater emphasis on stereochemical control in polymers, and to deemphasize research in polymer-based membranes, while maintaining efforts related to sequence-defined polymers, 2D organic polymers, and responsive polymer systems. The rationale for deemphasis on polymer membranes stems from decreasing return on investment in this maturing field. Overall, the strategy reflects an emphasis on polymer synthesis, including synthetic methods and catalysis, which is in harmony with the program objectives—with perhaps less effort in characterization and evaluation of materials for specific applications. The program is thus playing a leading role in several emerging basic-science initiatives with a level of risk and payoff toward the high-risk side of the spectrum. Other major players are also supporting work in these areas, but the program has identified a number of differentiating opportunities within the ARO mission, and careful guidance by the program manager can help to ensure that projects develop toward such programmatic goals.

Scientific Opportunity

The objectives of the program tend to be very fundamental in nature, and, if successful, will have broad and deep impacts not only for the ARO mission but also throughout polymer science and, even more broadly, throughout materials science and engineering. For the objective of precise control over molecular structure and composition, for example, quoting from Lutz et al., “monomer sequence regulation plays a key role in biology and is a prerequisite for crucial features of life, such as heredity, self-replication, complex self-assembly, and molecular recognition. In this context, developing synthetic polymers containing controlled monomer sequences is an important area for research.”3 This is a prototypical example of a high-priority objective for which the risk and motivation are clear—yet a successful outcome requires long-term investment. In the related area of control over polymer stereochemistry, breakthroughs have been made in catalyst design and will open several entirely new research topics. Likewise, breakthroughs have been made in control of polymer assembly to render functional hybrid synthetic/enzymes complexes and depolymerization of polymers in response to chemical stimuli. Collectively, such notable accomplishments suggest that many if not all of the scientific objectives will be met to some degree and positively impact the Army.

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3 Lutz, J.F., M. Ouchi, D.R. Liu, and M. Sawamoto, 2013, Sequence-controlled polymers, Science 341(6146): 1238149.

Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×

Significant Accomplishments

Several case studies were presented that represent significant scientific advances and map directly onto the stated objectives of the program. Two projects of very high significance stand out. The first is an STIR-funded project that developed a library of imidodiphosphate catalysts toward the stereo-regular cationic polymerization of poly(vinyl ethers) (PVEs). One consequence of high degrees of stereoregularity is that the materials can crystallize and be deployed as thermoplastics, akin to isotactic polypropylene. A catalyst was identified that yields 88 to 93 percent isotactic PVE. The impact of this breakthrough in polymer synthesis is tremendous not only in yielding polymers with previously inaccessible properties and functions (chemistry), but also in processability (structures, films, and composites) for a plethora of new applications. The second is a single investigator project that synthesized random heteropolymers composed of four types of monomer subunits, each with chemical properties designed to interact with chemical patches on the surface of proteins of interest. The heteropolymers interact favorably with protein surfaces, and co-assemble with the protein to maintain correct protein folding and stability outside of the cell and in nonnatural environments. The synthetic and biological assemblies retained enzymatic function, could be integrated into fiber mats, and were effective for bioremediation of toxic chemicals such as those found in insecticides and chemical warfare agents. This strategy to retain biological activity in nonbiological environments potentially opens the door to a wide range of hybrid materials that harness the power of biological materials for Army-related applications. There are also other accomplishments that reflect positively on the productivity and the creativity of the researchers in the Polymer Chemistry Program, as well as on the part of the PIs and the many graduate students and postdoctoral researchers now trained in scientific activity of interest to the Army.

Relevance and Transitions

The ability to control the structure of polymers is key for the development of properties and functions of interest to Army applications. In the process of helping to address interesting and emerging scientific questions, the program has been successful in the promotion of new technologies and the development of talent. Several technology transitions to Army agencies and industries covering a wide range of polymer applications are listed in the report,4 suggesting that the program is meeting its goals in this area. Some of these applications include new classes of responsive polymers for self-healing structural materials, adaptive fabrics, and self-repairing electronics and additively manufactured thermally cured thermoset polymers with a myriad of industrial and military-relevant applications.

Additional Considerations

The program has a strong record of significant experimental accomplishments in several critical aspects of polymer science. Nevertheless, there exist significant opportunities to introduce modern theoretical and simulation techniques for the systematic design and characterization of targeted polymeric materials.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

Four programs were reviewed: Reactive Chemical Systems, Electrochemistry, Molecular Structure and Dynamics, and Polymer Chemistry. In general, division metrics were strong, with 751 peer-reviewed publications during FY 2016 to 2018, and funding for 354 graduate students and 171 postdoctoral

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4 Army Research Laboratory, Army Research Office, https://www.arl.army.mil/www/pages/172/docs/AROinReview2018-online.pdf, accessed October 3, 2019.

Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×

researchers average per year during FY 2017 and 2018. However, most impressive in a program focused on outcomes for the Army was the number of successful transitions from bench to application. The translational metrics provided showed 56 transitions in the 3-year period from FY 2016 to FY 2018, including the development of several commercial products and start-ups based on the science and technology supported in these grants. The transition of fundamental chemical science research funded by ARO to applications developed in the ARL intramural laboratories also provides a good indicator of the success of the programs.

Overall, the Chemical Sciences Division supports strong science and innovative research projects that have clear potential for impacting the future performance of the Army. Some notable examples of impactful science funded by this division include the following: the development of melt-castable highly energetic materials made by co-crystallization; the design of self-regulating liquid crystals triggered by motile bacteria; the combinatorial synthesis and discovery of electrochemically active Perovskite materials; and the stabilization of biological materials using novel designer-polymer coatings based on mapping of hydrophobic/hydrophilic regions on a targeted protein.

The Chemical Sciences Division programs fund topics of national relevance that also are important to other funding agencies (e.g., for the development of catalysts, batteries, fuel cells, smart materials, and sensors). The potential overlap with other funding agencies is an advantage, because this enables ARO PMs to leverage large funding streams and to fund within those topic areas projects that have a unique niche for the Army. For example, the division provided funding for the following: to develop catalytic materials that could function in extreme environments unique to Army applications (large temperature swings or extremely dirty environments); and to evaluate unique methods for creating batteries and fuel cells with the potential to outperform other approaches but that would not be of interest to the consumer market owing to cost. The PMs were careful to evaluate potential projects based on the quality of the science and relevance to the interests of the Army. However, the Chemical Sciences Division might benefit from a more global perspective that could be provided by the formation of an external academic advisory group. There also was evidence of coordination with other DoD funding agencies to identify gaps in the combined research portfolios, to seek opportunities to work together to leverage funding streams, and to identify areas that specifically impact the Army versus other services for targeted investment.

The four program presentations outlined the collective efforts of researchers of significant stature working on an array of projects of varying degrees of risk. Acknowledging the importance of funding the leaders in their respective fields to push forward the Army’s agenda, there is also need for identifying and funding the next generation of leaders in emerging fields where breakthroughs might also impact the future Army. In that regard, it would be beneficial to consider devoting a greater degree of funding to new investigators in the field (STIR or single investigator grants). It is also important to use mechanisms like conference grants and STIR grants to identify and encourage high-risk/high-payoff research.

Overall, innovative research is being supported by this division; however, the research conducted in several of the program areas would benefit greatly from a closer interaction between theory/simulation and experiment.

In general, the valuable fundamental research supported by the Chemical Sciences Division’s programs has commendably enabled the discovery of science and development of new technologies for defense applications.

Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Chemical Sciences Division." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Assessment of the Physical Sciences Directorate at the Army Research Office. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25830.
×
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This report summarizes the 2019 findings of the Panel on Review of Extramural Basic Research at the Army Research Laboratory, which reviewed the programs at the Army Research Office’s Physical Sciences Directorate.

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