Materials database speeds innovation
Kristin Persson, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, thinks a better database of materials will lead to breakthrough technologies that reshape how we live. “It’s incredibly hard to find new materials, and even harder to bring them to market,” she says. “It takes about 15 years for a successful material to move from lab testing to becoming commercially profitable.”
“If you have Internet, you can use this resource.”
– Kristin Persson | Materials science and engineering professor
To speed up this process, Persson and her colleagues launched the Materials Project, with funding from the Department of Energy and Berkeley Lab. The Materials Project uses high-throughput computational techniques to calculate properties for all known materials.
Persson can virtually “grow” new materials by using supercomputers to crunch thousands of quantum-mechanical calculations, arrange virtual atoms into crystal structures and analyze their physical and chemical properties. The data is then stored digitally and made freely accessible to the public.
“We have more than 20,000 registered users around the world, with 300 to 400 daily users,” Persson says. “In the developing world, we’re probably the only organized resource that scientists have for materials data. If you have Internet, you can use this resource.”