Science: First-Of-Its-Kind Search Engine Will Speed Materials Research
From MIT News:
Using a website called the Materials Project, it’s now possible to explore an ever-growing database of more than 18,000 chemical compounds. The site’s tools can quickly predict how two compounds will react with one another, what that composite’s molecular structure will be, and how stable it would be at different temperatures and pressures.
The project is a direct outgrowth of MIT’s Materials Genome Project, initiated in 2006 by Gerbrand Ceder, the Richard P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. The idea, he says, is that the site “would become the Google of material properties,” making available data previously scattered in many different places, most of them not even searchable.
For example, it used to require months of work — consulting tables of data, performing calculations and carrying out precise lab tests — to create a single phase diagram showing when compounds incorporating several different elements would be solid, liquid or gas. Now, such a diagram can be generated in a matter of minutes, Ceder says.
The Materials Project is much more than a database of known information, Ceder says: The tool computes many materials’ properties in real time, upon request, using the vast supercomputing capacity of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. “We still don’t know most of the properties of most materials,” he says, but adds that in many cases these can be derived from known formulas and principles.
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Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.