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The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) annually sponsors approximately 5000 research scientists at 1000 universities and laboratories, generating about 10,000 Ph.D. graduates per decade, all expected to publish their basic research findings in peer-reviewed journals. After a brief introduction of the nature of AFOSR’s support to basic research in the U.S. and international scientific communities, work it supports at the frontiers of materials science is highlighted. One focused research theme that drives our investment is the MEANS program. It begins with the end in mind; materials are designed with practicable manufacture as an explicit initial goal. AFOSR’s broad research portfolio comprises many materials. Nanotechnology efforts include optical materials that reduce distortion to the scale of the nanoparticles themselves. Advances in semiconductors include breakthroughs in Group III nitrides, some of which emanated from Asia under sponsorship from AFOSR’s Asian office. Advances in structural materials include those for use at ultra-high temperatures and self-healing composites. The growing role of high-performance computing in design and study of functional, biological, and structural materials is also discussed.