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Towards quantification of the role of materials innovation in overall technological development


  • Christopher L. Magee

    Corresponding author
    1. Engineering Systems Division, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142
    • Engineering Systems Division, Room E38-450, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02142
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This article presents a method for quantitatively assessing the role of materials innovation in overall technological development. The method involves classifying the technical changes underlying the overall innovation process first within a set of functional categories and then within each category as a hierarchical array of technical changes. It is specifically found that about 2/3 of the total progress in computation over the past 40 years has been due to materials/process innovations. More speculatively, materials/process innovation contributes at least 20% of the progress in all areas and the relative contribution of materials/process innovation to overall technological progress has grown in the past few decades. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity, 2012