In this exclusive video interview from nanotechweb.org's sister website physicsworld.com, Ian Robertson, the DMR's incoming director, talks about growth areas – nanoelectronics, photovoltaics and data-enabled science among others – and what the agency is doing to encourage high-risk, high-payoff interdisciplinary research.

As for the "next big thing", Robertson doesn't have a crystal ball, but he does predict a pivotal role for computational materials science and simulation in areas like synthesis, processing and the modelling of next-generation materials.

"My feeling is that it is not going to impact one area of materials science, but the entire field," says Robertson, who is also a Donald B Willett professor of engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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This interview forms part of a series filmed at the Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting in Boston. To view related content, visit physicsworld.com's multimedia channel.