Over the last 50 years, solid state physics and technology have blossomed through the application of modern quantum mechanics to the real world. The intimate relationship between basic research and application has been highlighted ever since the invention of the transistor in 1947, the laser in 1958 and the subsequent spawning of the computer and communications revolution which has so changed our lives. The awarding of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics to Alferov, Kroemer and Kilby is another important recognition of the unique interplay between basic science and technology. Such advances and discoveries were made in major industrial research laboratories — Bell Labs, IBM, RCA and others. Today many of these industrial laboratories are in decline due to changes in the regulatory environment and global economic competition. In this talk I will examine some of the frontiers in technology and emerging policy issues. My talk will be colored by my own experiences at Bell Labs and subsequently at a major U.S. national laboratory (Sandia) and at universities (University of California at Santa Barbara and Harvard). I will draw on experiences from my role as the Chair of the National Research Council (NRC) panel on the Future of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics (1999) and as a reviewer of the 2001 NRC report, Physics in a New Era. The growth rates of silicon and optical technologies will ultimately flatten as physical and economic limits are reached. If history is any guide, entirely new technologies will be created. Current research in nanoscience and nanotechnology is already leading to new relationships between fields as diverse as chemistry, biology, applied physics, electrical and mechanical engineering. Materials science is becoming even more interdisciplinary than in the past. Different fields of engineering are coming together. The interfaces between engineering and biology are emerging as another frontier. I will spend some time in exploring the frontier where quantum mechanics intersects the real world and the special role played by designer materials and new imaging tools to explore this emerging frontier. To position ourselves for the future, we therefore must find new ways of breaking disciplinary boundaries in academia. The focus provided by applications and the role of interdisciplinary research centers will be examined. Strangely, the reductionist approach inherent in nanoscience must be connected with the world of complex systems. Integrative approaches to science and technology will become more the norm in fields such as systems biology, soft condensed matter and other complex systems. Just like in nature, can we learn to adapt some of the great successes of industrial research laboratories to a university setting? I will take examples from materials science to delineate the roles of different entities so that a true pluralistic approach for science and technology can be facilitated to create the next revolution in our field.

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