To the government, scientific research isn’t as much of a fun process for discovery and exploration as it is a powerful tool to better the nation. Throughout history, scientific innovation and development has mainly reciprocated two benefits to the government: an improved quality of life for citizens and an increase in power/influence in international relations. Today, promising scientific research abounds in multiple fields. However, the science that the government has to invest heavily in during the 21st century is materials science. If they do so, two major benefits will be seen: a breakthrough in renewable energy and an increased flexibility in what resources we use.
Before, scientific innovation was mainly reliant on how people could use the current available materials and combine them to create something new. But today, scientific innovation has hit a roadblock of sorts for many projects, including renewable energy. Currently, researchers are looking for photocatalytic compounds that can turn sunlight and water into oxygen and hydrogen. Scientific American, in “How Supercomputers Will Yield a Golden Age of Materials Science” states, “The dream is an ‘artificial leaf’ that can turn sunlight and air into methanol-like liquid fuels we could burn in cars and airplanes.” The dream for renewable energy is on the verge of being realized, and the last component needed is an advanced material. The first nation to discover the material will gain the ability to provide a source of renewable energy for the world. But not only will they have truly renewable energy, but also, they will be able to control the global market for renewable energy production, bringing along power and wealth.
If materials science is advanced, there will be much less of a scarcity of resources. Previously, one would have to invest considerable resources, cause environmental harm, and destabilize Earth’s fragile crust to mine precious metals. However, if you can mass-produce artificial versions of such resources, the need to constantly mine deeper and deeper into the Earth’s crust is gone. By creating artificial resources, the problem of the scarcity of resources can be solved, or at least mitigated.
In the 21st century, mankind is in need of new materials to cause new breakthroughs in crucial areas such as renewable energy and artificial resources. For the nations that are able to develop material science, one can expect an increase in the quality of life for their citizens and increased global influence for them.
<Hyun ki Cho Yongsan International School of Seoul 11th grade