Roy: A visionary in materials
Rustum Roy was a major innovator of new materials synthesis techniques. Starting in 1948, he devised the solution sol-gel process for making pure nanoscale reactive powders for many important ceramic compositions. Roy's seminal work in developing the sol-gel process and in identifying the phases of barium titanate, the most widely used material for capacitors, gained him worldwide recognition.
In 1962 he founded the Materials Research Laboratory, which housed more highly cited materials researchers than any other institution in the country. In 1973, Roy co-founded the Materials Research Society, now in over 90 countries. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1973 and named Evan Pugh Professor in 1981.
Roy also was innovative in his approach to materials science and among the first to recognize the necessity of bringing together scientists from many disciplines to work on solving difficult problems. This interdisciplinary approach was the underlying philosophy of the Materials Research Laboratory, which he led from 1962 to 1985. In 1969, he founded the Science, Technology and Society program at Penn State, which became a model for similar programs at universities across the nation.