Challenges in Chemistry

Committee on Challenges for the Chemical Sciences in the 21st Century

The Grand Challenges for Chemists and Chemical Engineers


  1. Learn how to synthesize and manufacture any new substance (compact synthetic schemes, high selectivity, low energy consumption, benign environmental effects) – Synthesis and Manufacturing
  2. Develop new materials and measurements devices that will protect citizens (terrorism, crime, disease) against dangerous substances and organisms with high sensitivity and selectivity – Protection of the individual, analytical chemistry 
  3. Understand and control how molecules react – over all time scales and the full range of molecular size (observation of molecules during reactions) – Computational Chemistry, Theory
  4. Learn how to design and produce new substances, materials, and molecular devices with properties that can be predicted, tailored, and tuned before production (use of chemical theory and computation) – Molecular design, Computational Chemistry
  5. Understand the chemistry of living systems in detail (assembling of biomolecules into functional complexes, chemistry of the living cell, chemistry of the brain) – Biochemistry
  6. Develop medicines and therapies that can cure currently untreatable diseases (drug design for cancer, viral diseases, ADME) – Drug Design
  7. Develop self-assembly as a useful approach to the synthesis and manufacturing of complex systems and materials (nanotechnology) – Materials science, Nanotechnology
  8. Understand the complex chemistry of the earth, including land, sea, atmosphere, and biosphere so we can maintain its livability (how to deal with pollution and other threats to earth) – Environmental Chemistry
  9. Develop unlimited and inexpensive energy (new ways for energy generation, storage, transportation) – Energy
  10. Design and develop self-optimizing chemical systems (copying the development of biological systems through evolution: medicines, catalysts) – Biomaterials, Materials Science
  11. Revolutionize the design of chemical processes to make them safe, compact, flexible, energy efficient, environmentally benign. – Chemical Engineering
  12. Communicate effectively to the general public the contributions that chemistry and chemical engineering make to society (use the media, give lectures) – Public Relations
  13. Attract the best and the brightest students into the chemical sciences – Education
Chemistry of Year 2015