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: Unexpected new mechanism reveals how molecules become trapped in ice

Provided by DOE/US Department of Energy

4.6 /5 (10 votes)

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User comments : 6

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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 ;)