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Berkeley Lab, MIT launch 'Materials Project'

Posted: 14 Nov 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:materials  scientists  researchers  computational tool 

Researchers from the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have jointly launched a new computational tool, called the Materials Project.

The online tool, which operates like a "Google" of material properties, uses computers to determine and calculate the properties of a material, making it possible to find the right material, without months or years of experimentation. Materials Project aims to enable scientists, engineers, labs, and private industry to accelerate the development of new materials.

Kristin Persson

Kristin Persson is a Berkeley Lab chemist and one of the founding scientists behind the Materials Project.

"Our vision is for this tool to become a dynamic 'Google' of material properties, which continually grows and changes as more users come on board to analyse the results, verify against experiments and increase their knowledge," says Kristin Persson, a Berkeley Lab chemist and one of the founding scientists behind the Materials Project. "So many scientists can benefit from this type of screening. Considering the demand for innovative clean energy technology, we needed most of these materials yesterday."

The Materials Project employs an approach to materials science inspired by genomics. But rather than sequencing genomes, researchers are using supercomputers to characterise the properties of inorganic compounds, such as their stability, voltage, capacity, and oxidation state. The results are then organised into a database with a user-friendly web interface that gives all researchers free and easy access and searching.

"The Materials Project represents the next generation of the original Materials Genome Project, developed by Ceder's team at MIT," says Shreyas Cholia, a NERSC computer engineer who helped develop this tool. "The core science team worked with developers from NERSC and Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division to expand this tool into a more permanent, flexible and scalable data service built on top of rich modern web interfaces and state-of-the-art NoSQL database technology."

Already, the Materials Project is working with several entities interested in making stronger, corrosion-resistant, lightweight aluminium alloys, which could make possible lighter vehicles and airplanes.





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