Materials — natural substances altered by humans to meet specific needs — are critical to technology. Today’s advanced materials make possible rocket engines, smartphones, medical machines, anti-pollution devices, and much more.
Traditionally, materials have been developed slowly, by trial and error. Today, 21st century computational techniques, in tandem with cutting-edge experimentation capabilities, allow materials scientists and engineers to work at the atomic scale to design novel materials with increasing speed and effectiveness.
The result is that today’s cyber-enabled materials — so-called because of the computer’s pivotal role in their creation — are more likely to move from laboratory to industry in a few years rather than a decade or two. This increased efficiency is helping fulfill the goal of the Materials Genome Initiative, a 2013 White House program aimed at bolstering the economy by shortening development cycles.
“Historically, it has taken 15 to 20 years to implement new materials into high-value products, which is simply far too long for industries to compete in the digital age, where design of new products occurs within months or a few years,” said Dave McDowell, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Materials (IMat). “Our goal is to dramatically accelerate that process.”
Multiple teams of Georgia Tech researchers are utilizing cyber techniques to support accelerated materials design. Here are a few of the innovative efforts underway by research teams that include engineers, chemists, physicists, computer scientists, and others.