Alexander H. King, Critical Materials Institute Director, Ames Laboratory
Hach Hall Atrium
The Critical Materials Institute has been established in response to shortages of rare earth elements, but this is not the first time a material has become critical, and it probably will not be the last. We will review the causes of the “rare earth crisis” and compare it to previous supply chain failures, going back as far as the Bronze Age. We will look at the political impacts of these shortages and the technological responses to them, and see how things have changed over the years. Finally, we will peer into the crystal ball, and try to figure out what might happen next.