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Professor Martin Green *Leader Materials for Energy and Sustainable Development Group, NIST

Event Date: 
Monday, February 12, 2018 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Materials Science for the Anthropocene - Civilization on our planet took a sharp turn about 250 years ago, at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and has accelerated on that highway ever since. Arguably, its impact on humankind is equivalent to that of the invention of fire. The enormous consequences of industrial activity, positive and negative, could not have been anticipated then, but the bottom line today is that per capita global consumption of energy is higher than ever, and demand for materials (relative to the year 1900) has increased by factors of 3 to 6000, depending on the element. Total population as well as those segments of the population doing the consuming, is also increasing. Now we speak (informally, thus far) of the Anthropocene, the first geological epoch in which human activity is deemed to have had an effect on the Earth’s ecosystem. For how much longer can economic growth and demand for goods be sustained, and can the same human ingenuity that started the industrial revolution mitigate its effects? In this talk I will address the meaning and definition of sustainable development, and explore the space at its intersection with materials science. Every human endeavor should be informed by sustainable development, because none of our material resources are infinite and only a few sources of energy are sustainable. The most common definition of sustainable development comes from the 1987 Brundtland report, “Our Common Future”, and states that “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” However, this is not a scientific definition, and essentially refers to economic development. Further, it requires that we know, or at least accurately estimate, what the needs of future generations will be. The immediate and direct connections between sustainable development and materials science include efficient use of materials, materials life cycle assessment, replacement materials, energy-related materials, and water purification. I will highlight some activities in the field of sustainable development, and suggest what future scientists should know about this field. Thus far, I have learned that there is nothing we do as humans to ensure our survival (food, water, materials, shelter, economy, health) that lies outside of the boundaries of sustainable development. Dr. Martin L. Green is the leader of the Materials for Energy and Sustainable Development Group of the Materials Measurement Laboratory at NIST. His group conducts research, and develops and disseminates measurement science, data, standards, and technology pertaining to materials for energy and sustainable development applications. In partnership with U.S. industry, government agencies and other stakeholders, his group also develops state-of-the-art instrumentation, methods, models and software to accurately and precisely measure materials over a range of length and time scales. His group is also the home of significant research in high throughput (combinatorial) materials science methodologies, and their implementation in the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) using artificial intelligence. Dr. Green has B.S. (1970) and M.S. (1972) degrees from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, and a Ph.D. (1978) in Materials Science from M.I.T. Dr. Green served as president of the Materials Research Society (MRS) in 2001, and is an MRS Fellow. He has authored/co-authored over 200 papers, and has been granted 16 patents in the materials and processing field.
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