First-of-its-kind search engine will speed materials research

Nov 03, 2011

Researchers from the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) jointly launched today a groundbreaking new online tool called the Materials Project, which operates like a "Google" of material properties, enabling scientists and engineers from universities, national laboratories and private industry to accelerate the development of new materials, including critical materials.

"By accelerating the development of new materials, we can drive discoveries that not only help power clean energy, but also are used in common consumer products." said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "This will help the United States compete with other developers of new materials, and could potentially create new domestic industries."

Discovering and strengthening the properties of existing materials are key to improving just about everything humans use – from buildings and highways to modern necessities. For example, advances in a group of materials called "critical materials" are more important to America's competitiveness than ever before – particularly in the clean energy field. Cell phones, wind turbines, solar panels and a variety of military technologies depend on these roughly fourteen elements (including nine "rare earth" elements). With about 90 percent coming from China, there are growing concerns about potential supply shortages and disruptions.

With the Materials Project, researchers can use supercomputers to characterize properties of inorganic compounds, including their stability, voltage, capacity, and oxidation state, which had previously not been possible. The results are then organized into a database that gives all researchers at DOE's national labs free access. This database already contains the properties of more than 15,000 inorganic compounds, and hundreds of more compounds are added every day.

Already, scientists are using the tool to work with several companies interested in making stronger, corrosion-resistant lightweight aluminum alloys, which could make it possible to produce lighter weight vehicles and airplanes. Scientists have also already successfully applied this tool for prediction and discovery of materials used for clean energy technologies, including lithium ion batteries, hydrogen storage, thermoelectrics, electrodes for fuel cells, and photovoltaics.

Explore further: Can perovskites and silicon team up to boost industrial solar cell efficiencies?

Provided by DOE/US Department of Energy

4.6 /5 (10 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hybrid welding process developed

Dec 18, 2006

U.S. scientists say they've developed a hybrid process involving the use of a laser in friction-stir welding to extend the application to more materials.

Selenium makes more efficient solar cells

Aug 03, 2010

Call it the anti-sunscreen. That's more or less the description of what many solar energy researchers would like to find -- light-catching substances that could be added to photovoltaic materials in order ...

Recommended for you

New insights found in black hole collisions

Mar 27, 2015

New research provides revelations about the most energetic event in the universe—the merging of two spinning, orbiting black holes into a much larger black hole.

X-rays probe LHC for cause of short circuit

Mar 27, 2015

The LHC has now transitioned from powering tests to the machine checkout phase. This phase involves the full-scale tests of all systems in preparation for beam. Early last Saturday morning, during the ramp-down, ...

Swimming algae offer insights into living fluid dynamics

Mar 27, 2015

None of us would be alive if sperm cells didn't know how to swim, or if the cilia in our lungs couldn't prevent fluid buildup. But we know very little about the dynamics of so-called "living fluids," those ...

First glimpse inside a macroscopic quantum state

Mar 27, 2015

In a recent study published in Physical Review Letters, the research group led by ICREA Prof at ICFO Morgan Mitchell has detected, for the first time, entanglement among individual photon pairs in a beam ...

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

hyongx
not rated yet Nov 03, 2011
i just checked the site out, www.materialsproject.org , and i think it is pretty rad.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2011
@hyongx i tried that website and it said nitrogen is not an element :X
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2011
ah nvm here it is. it does not parse nitrogen etc have to fill in N.

http://www.materi...ks/5751/
CapitalismPrevails
1 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2011
This sounds like a really cost affective tool to help expedite the R&D of new technologies. Hope it helps.
jselin
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
Finally!!!! As a materials scientist I was really starting to lose hope... accurate and detailed properties are so hard to come by its crazy. I hope as time goes on they process more and more obscure properties.

For example this is how it usually goes:
"Hey if I knew the microwave loss tangent of material "A" versus frequency I could design a [blank]!"

"Hmmm no papers on it, I guess it never mattered to anyone before now... sounds like an expensive test too. Can I justify the expense? Not without knowing if the answer to the question is going to help and I'm not sticking my neck out on this budget. :( Oh well... lets see what's on Physorg today. Oh man that Omatumr is at it again! Jeez!"

So far it looks like the site is very well done! I hope it grows into all it could be!
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
Oh man that Omatumr is at it again! Jeez!"

Well, there's your answer: use neutronium ;)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.