ISLAMABAD - Like China, which is controlling 97pc to the world’s rare earth elements market, Pakistan needs to develop a strong base of research in rare earth elements, which are considered as critical components of the high technology products.

Some of the emerging applications of smart materials are in textiles, coatings, electronics, sensors etc.

According to Chairperson Pakistan Council of Science and technology (PCST) Dr Mudasar Asrar, there is need of conducting research on all classes of materials including hard and soft materials, metals, inter-metallics, organic and inorganic semiconductors, polymers, composite materials, biomedical materials, and vitreous materials.

She said priority should be given to materials synthesis for prevailing ambient conditions of Pakistan and characterization techniques in order to understand and define the properties of materials. It is necessary that the latest equipment and research facilities are made available to the researchers, she mentioned.

Although, there are various universities in Pakistan offering Masters and PhD level courses in the field of materials science, as well as various laboratories in the same field are operational, there is need of establishing a number of research institutes for materials science at the national level, each specializing in one or multi-dimensional areas.

Dr Mudasar said these institutes must act as an interface between the academic institutions and the industry.

“Establishment of more departments in universities/R&D institutions/laboratories in Pakistan dealing with the same field is also needed in order to achieve the desired level of expertise”.

Chairperson PCST said materials science plays a significant role in the economic progress of a country and contributes directly towards the growth of the industrial sector, particularly ceramics, plastics, metallurgy, aerospace, telecommunications, transportation, electronics, micro and optoelectronics, energy, healthcare, computing, consumer goods, and construction.

“The relevance of materials science with modern technological developments needs to be underscored”.

It is necessary to provide highly trained manpower in this field in order to meet the present as well as future needs of the country, she said.