2017 Van Vlack Lecture - Energy: The True Final Frontier

Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley Materials Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the 2017 Van Vlack Lecture on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum..
The Van Vlack Lecture Series was established in honor of L. H. Van Vlack, to provide a distinguished lecture series from the outstanding leaders in the field of Materials Science and Engineering.
"More than five decades ago, President Kennedy exhorted the nation to rise up and meet the biggest challenges of that period, amongst them being the Race to the Moon, that led to the establishment of NASA and the Apollo program. In one of the most stirring presidential speeches, he urged the nation to “ask not what the country can do for you, but what you can do for the country”. It is quite likely that we, as a nation, are once again at crossroads, from many perspectives. I will use Energy as a “Clear and Present” example of where we, as scientists, engineers, young and not-so-young, need to rise up and meet the challenges that we are faced with. Energy and Water are perhaps the most pressing issues of our generation. I will argue that Materials are the most strategic enablers of both fields. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to serve the nation in the role of the founding Director of the DOE Sunshot Initiative, which was designed to bring solar electricity down to grid parity. The huge impact of Sunshot and more generally Solar, is already being felt with prices of solar electricity dropping rapidly. In this talk, I will attempt to take you through from the “Macro”, global energy economics down to what fundamental materials science and engineering can do to help the United States maintaining its global competitiveness. Specifically, we will discuss the key “show-stoppers” in the Energy game, amongst which, Storage of Energy is perhaps the biggest".