The Youngstown, Ohio, based National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) hit the ground running and this week announced its first $4.5 million in awards for seven projects. Matching funds from proposal winners bring the value of the awards up to $5 million.
The Obama administration established NAMII in August 2012 as the pilot institute for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) and President Obama brought the Youngstown institute to the nation’s attention when he mentioned it in January’s State of the Union address. The public-private-academic consortium comprises 40 companies, nine research universities, five community colleges, and 11 nonprofits. (Obama announced the NNMI concept just one year ago, in March 2012, and provided it with $45 million in federal funding from DOD, DOE, Department of Commerce, NSF, and NASA.)
According to the press release, all seven winning projects come from the ranks of NAMII consortium members and are R&D projects that address aspects of NAMII’s four thrust areas are technology development, technology transition, additive manufacturing enterprise, and education/workforce outreach.
Based on what I can see in the press release, none of these projects specify research on ceramic materials-the focus seems to be on polymers and metals. (I was not able to reach anyone at NAMII this morning.) NAMII says it will announce its second call for proposals in June at the RAPID 2013 Conference and Exposition in Pittsburgh, Pa. Let’s hope they add ceramic materials to the mix. We have often reported in CTT, additive manufacturing is an excellent fabrication technology for ceramics, as this example and this example show.
Here are the awards (from the press release).
“Maturation of Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) Component Manufacturing“
Rapid Prototype + Manufacturing LLC (RP+M)
Led by small business part producer, RP+M, in partnership with equipment manufacturers and large industry system integrators and the University of Dayton Research Institute, this project will provide the community with a deeper understanding of the properties and opportunities of the high-temperature polymer, ULTEMTM 9085. Some of the key outcomes from this project include a design guide; critical materials and processing data; and machine, material, part and process certification.
“Qualification of Additive Manufacturing Processes and Procedures for Repurposing and Rejuvenation of Tooling“
Case Western Reserve University
Led by Case Western Reserve University, in partnership with several additive manufacturers, die casters, computer modelers, and the North American Die Casting Association, this project will develop, evaluate, and qualify methods for repairing and repurposing tools and dies. Die casting tools are very expensive—sometimes exceeding $1 million each—and require long lead times to manufacture. The ability to repair and repurpose tools and dies can save energy and costs, and reduce lead time by extending tool life through use of the additive manufacturing techniques developed by this team.
“Sparse-Build Rapid Tooling by Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) for Composite Manufacturing and Hydroforming“
Missouri University of Science and Technology
“Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) for Complex Composites Tooling“
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
Two projects focusing on fused depositing modeling are to be co-led developed in close collaboration by Missouri University of Science and Technology and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, in partnership with other small and large companies and the Robert C. Byrd Institute’s Composite Center of Excellence. These projects address a key near-term opportunity for additive manufacturing: the ability to rapidly and cost-effectively produce tooling for composite manufacturing. Polymer composite tools often involve expensive, complex machined, metallic structures that can take months to manufacture. Recent developments with high-temperature polymeric tooling, such as the ULTEM 9085 material, show great promise for low-cost, energy-saving tooling options for the polymer composites industry. In addition, these projects will explore the use of sparse-build tools, minimizing material use for the needs of the composite process. Composites are high-strength materials that are used in a wide range of industries and can be used for lightweighting, a key strategy for reducing energy use.
“Maturation of High-Temperature Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Technologies and Infrastructure“
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
Led by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, in partnership with several industry team members, this project will develop a selective laser sintering process for a lower-cost, high-temperature thermoplastic for making air and space vehicle components and other commercial applications. In addition, recyclability and reuse of materials will also be explored to maximize cost savings and promote sustainability.
“Thermal Imaging for Process Monitoring and Control of Additive Manufacturing“
Penn State University Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP 3D)
Led by Penn State University, in partnership with several industry and university team members, this project will expand the use of thermal imaging for process monitoring and control of electron beam direct manufacturing (EBDM) and laser engineered net shaping (LENS) additive manufacturing processes. Improvements to the EBDM and LENS systems will enable 3D visualization of the measured global temperature field and real-time control of electron beam or laser power levels based on thermal image characteristics. These outcomes will enable the community to have greater confidence on part properties and quality using these technologies.
“Rapid Qualification Methods for Powder Bed Direct Metal Additive Manufacturing Processes“
Case Western Reserve University
Led by Case Western Reserve University, in partnership with leading aerospace industry companies and other industry and university team members, this project will improve the industry’s ability to understand and control microstructure and mechanical properties across EOS Laser Sintering and Arcam Electron Beam Melting powder bed processes. Process-based cost modeling with variable production volumes will also be delivered, providing the community with valuable cost estimates for new product lines. The outcomes from this project will deliver much needed information to qualify these production processes for use across many industries.
Here’s what we are reading about:
A multi-university team of researchers has artificially engineered a unique multilayer material that could lead to breakthroughs in both superconductivity research and in real-world applications. The researchers can tailor the material, which seamlessly alternates between metal and oxide layers, to achieve extraordinary superconducting properties - in particular, the ability to transport much more electrical current than non-engineered materials. The team includes experts from the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, Florida State Univ. and the Univ. of Michigan. The group described its breakthrough March 3, 2013, in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Materials. The researchers’ new material is composed of 24 layers that alternate between the pnictide superconductor and a layer of the oxide strontium titanate. The researchers maintained an atomically sharp interface. The new material also has improved current-carrying capabilities. As they grew the superlattice, the researchers also added a tiny bit of oxygen to intentionally insert defects every few nanometers in the material. These defects act as pinning centers to immobilize tiny magnetic vortices that, as they grow in strength in large magnetic fields, can limit current flow through the superconductor.
(Ars Technica) A group of researchers in Germany who have a history of working with lithium-air batteries have turned their attention to sodium-air. The reason for the change is that lithium-air has some unfortunate chemistry that has proven difficult to overcome. The researchers wanted a simpler system that might not have as many technical hurdles. It turns out that sodium-air provides this system. The battery they constructed is very simple. There’s a solid sodium electrode at one end. On top of that an electrolyte is placed, then an air-permeable carbon electrode. The metal atoms release an electron that travels through a circuit to do work while the ionic form of the metal dissolves into the electrolyte and travels to the carbon electrode. At that electrode it combines with oxygen and an electron to form sodium oxide. It’s important to remember that this is very much exploratory, so the news is quite mixed. It certainly can’t compare with a commercial lithium-ion battery, but it compares very well with lithium-air. The researchers found that it was easier to charge, held more charge, and had better discharge characteristics. In other words, even though lithium-air has a higher theoretical energy density, sodium-air has a higher practical energy density. Further, that energy is stored in the battery more efficiently and can be extracted more efficiently.
The adsorption of ions in microporous materials governs the operation of technologies as diverse as water desalination, energy storage, sensing, and mechanical actuation. Until now, however, researchers attempting to improve the performance of these technologies haven’t been able to directly and unambiguously identify how factors such as pore size, pore surface chemistry and electrolyte properties affect the concentration of ions in these materials as a function of the applied potential. To provide the needed information, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated that a technique known as small angle neutron scattering (SANS) can be used to study the effects of ions moving into nanoscale pores. Believed to be the first application of the SANS technique for studying ion surface adsorption in-situ, details of the research were reported recently in Angewandte Chemie International Edition. Using conductive nanoporous carbon, the researchers conducted proof-of-concept experiments to measure changes in the adsorption of hydrogen ions in pores of different sizes within the same material due to variations in solvent properties and applied electrical potential. Systematic studies performed with such a technique could ultimately help identify the optimal pore size, surface chemistry and electrolyte solvent properties necessary for either maximizing or minimizing the adsorption of ions under varying conditions
When a crystal is hit by an intense ultrashort light pulse, its atomic structure is set in motion. A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, the Technischen Universität München, the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin, and the Universität Kassel can now observe how the configuration of electrons and atoms in titanium dioxide, a semiconductor, changes under the impact of an ultraviolet laser pulse, confirming that even subtle changes in the electron distribution caused by the excitation can have a considerable impact on the whole crystal structure. The physicists illuminated a titanium dioxide crystal with an intense ultraviolet laser pulse of less than five femtoseconds duration. The laser pulse excites the valence electrons in the crystal and generates a small number of hot electrons with a temperature of several thousand Kelvin. Following the first, intense laser pulse, the changes in the reflectivity of the crystal on the femtosecond timescale were observed by a second, weak light pulse. This measurement provides the scientists with information on the changes in the crystal induced by the first laser pulse: the intense ultraviolet laser pulse did not only heat up the valence electrons but also changed the electron distribution within the lattice.
A white Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell (PEM-type) vehicle rolled off the assembly line at the company’s Ulsan manufacturing facility today, as Hyundai became the world’s first automaker to begin assembly-line production of zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered vehicles for fleet use. The ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle, based on Hyundai’s popular ix35, C-segment SUV, exited the assembly line at Hyundai Motor Company’s Plant No. 5 during a launch event attended by Hyundai top management and VIPs. The ix35 Fuel Cell unveiled at the ceremony will be one of 17 destined for fleet customers in the City of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Skåne, Sweden. Copenhagen, as part of its initiative to be carbon-free by 2025, will be supplied with 15 ix35 vehicles for fleet use, according to an agreement that was announced in September 2012. Two also will be supplied to Skåne, Sweden. “Assembly-line production of fuel cell vehicles marks a crucial milestone in the history of the automobile industry not just in Korea, but throughout the world,” says Mang Woo Park, mayor of Ulsan city. Hyundai plans to build 1,000 ix35 vehicles by 2015 for lease to public and private fleets, primarily in Europe, where the European Union has established a hydrogen road map and initiated construction of hydrogen fueling stations.
With imported petroleum dropping from 60 percent of total consumption to less than 40 percent in the past six years, in part due to the explosion of onshore oil exploration and development, the US has made progress toward its goal of reducing dependence on foreign oil. On March 5, energy leaders will come together with faculty of the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business Energy Institute for a national energy symposium with the objective of developing a long-term energy strategy for the country. Some of the nation’s leading energy executives, economists and national security leaders will share their diverse perspectives to identify priorities and challenges in shaping a cohesive energy strategy and enabling policy. The long-term energy strategy symposium organizers expect to develop will be designed to address the realities of energy resource options, take into account global resources, competition and US options, and provide a balanced view of resource reliability, economics and environmental impact. Panelists also will address the role of government in energy policy that they believe would enable successful implementation for a cohesive, long-term energy strategy. The keynote speaker is Adam Sieminski, administrator, US Energy Information Administration.
(Nature) Glass transition, in which viscosity of liquids increases dramatically upon decrease of temperature without any major change in structural properties, remains one of the most challenging problems in condensed matter physics despite tremendous research efforts in past decades… [T]he characterization of the similarity between spin and the structural glass transition remains an elusive subject. In this study, we introduced a model structural glass with built-in quenched disorder that alleviates this main difference between the spin and molecular glasses, thereby helping us compare these two systems: the possibility of producing a good thermalization at rather low temperatures is one of the advantages of this model.
I am not sure how much (if any) of this could be affected by the sequestration decisions, but this is a reminder that NIST has issued a call for grant proposals covering the institute’s interests in measurement science and engineering (MSE), spanning eight research units:
- The Material Measurement Laboratory grants: Support research in the fields of materials science and engineering, materials measurement science, biosystems and biomaterials, biomolecular measurements, chemical sciences, and applied chemicals and materials;
- The Physical Measurement Laboratory grants: Support research in the areas of mechanical metrology, semiconductors, ionizing radiation physics, medical physics, biophysics, neutron physics, atomic physics, optical technology, optoelectronics, electromagnetics, time and frequency, quantum physics, weights and measures, quantum electrical metrology, temperature, pressure, flow, far-UV physics, and metrology with synchrotron radiation;
- The Engineering Laboratory grants: Support research in the fields of machine tool and machining process metrology; advanced manufacturing; intelligent systems and information systems integration for applications in manufacturing; structures, construction metrology and automation; inorganic materials; polymeric materials; heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment performance; mechanical systems and controls; heat transfer and alternative energy systems; computer-integrated building processes; indoor air quality and ventilation; earthquake risk reduction for buildings and infrastructure; smart grid; windstorm impact reduction; applied economics; and fire research.
- The Information Technology Laboratory grants: Support research in the areas of advanced network technologies, big data, cloud computing, computer forensics, information access, information processing and understanding, cybersecurity, health information technology, human factors and usability, mathematical and computational sciences, mathematical foundations of measurement science for information systems; they also support a metrology infrastructure for modeling and simulation, smart grid, software testing and statistics for metrology;
- The NIST Center for Neutron Research grants: Support research involving neutron scattering and the development of innovative technologies that advance the state of the art in neutron research;
- The Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology grants: Support research in the field of nanotechnology specifically aimed at developing essential measurement and fabrication methods and technology in support of all phases of nanotechnology development, from discovery to production; they also support collaborative research with NIST scientists, including research at the CNST NanoFab, a national shared resource for nanofabrication and measurement; and supporting researchers visiting CNST;
- The Office of Special Programs grants; Support research in the broad areas of greenhouse gas and climate science measurements, and law enforcement standards; and
- The Associate Director for Laboratory Programs grants: Support research in chemistry, materials science, physics, engineering, infrastructure, information technology, neutron research, and nanotechnology.
In 2012, these programs supported $31.5 million in research. Funds can also be used to support conferences, workshops, or other technical research meetings that are relevant to NIST’s work.
NIST says proposals for all programs—except the EL grants—will be considered on a continuing/rolling basis. Proposals received after 5 p.m. Eastern Time on June 3, 2013 may be processed and considered for funding in the current fiscal year or in the next fiscal year, subject to the availability of funds.
Note: the primary deadline for applications to the EL Grant Program is Friday, March 1, 2013. EL will continue to accept applications on a continuing/rolling basis in the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year, depending on available funds.
The grants.gov website has details of scope, anticipated award sizes, requirements and the proposal submission and review process for each of the grant programs. Search under “Opportunity Number” 2013-NIST-MSE-01.
Some other stories and papers worth looking into:
(PNAS) The exploration of novel electronic degrees of freedom has important implications in both basic quantum physics and advanced information technology. Valley, as a new electronic degree of freedom, has received considerable attention in recent years. In this paper, we develop the theory of spin and valley physics of an antiferromagnetic honeycomb lattice. We show that by coupling the valley degree of freedom to antiferromagnetic order, there is an emergent electronic degree of freedom characterized by the product of spin and valley indices, which leads to spin-valley-dependent optical selection rule and Berry curvature-induced topological quantum transport. These properties will enable optical polarization in the spin-valley space, and electrical detection/manipulation through the induced spin, valley, and charge fluxes. The domain walls of an antiferromagnetic honeycomb lattice harbors valley-protected edge states that support spin-dependent transport. Finally, we use first-principles calculations to show that the proposed optoelectronic properties may be realized in antiferromagnetic manganese chalcogenophosphates (MnPX3, X=S, Se) in monolayer form.
Physicists have explored the changing behavior of granular materials by comparing it to what happens in thermodynamic systems. In a thermodynamic system, you can change the state of a material—like water—from a liquid to a gas by adding energy (heat) to the system. One of the most fundamental and important observations about temperature, however, is that it has the ability to equilibrate. Physicists thought they could use thermodynamics’ underlying ideas to explain the changes in granular materials, but didn’t know whether granular materials had properties which might equilibrate in a similar way. In other words, instead of temperature being the change agent in a granular system, it might be a property related to the amount of free space, or the forces on the particles. But no one had really tested which of the two might exhibit equilibration. NC State physicist Karen Daniels and former graduate student James Puckett devised a way to do just that. “Physicists often have ideas that are theoretically elegant, such as the idea that there might be new temperature-like variables to be discovered, and then it’s exciting to go into the lab and see how well these ideas work in practice,” says Daniels. “In this case, we found it is possible to take the temperature of a granular system and find out more about what makes it change its state. The ‘thermometer’ for this temperature is actually the particles themselves,” says Puckett.
(Economist) Aluminum was once more costly than gold. How times change. And in aluminium’s case they changed because, in the late 1880s, Charles Hall and Paul Héroult worked out how to separate the stuff from its oxide using electricity. Now, the founders of Metalysis, a small British firm, hope to do much the same with tantalum, titanium and a host of other recherché and expensive metallic elements including neodymium, tungsten and vanadium. The effect could be profound. Tantalum is an ingredient of the best electronic capacitors. At the moment it is so expensive ($500-2,000 a kilogram) that it is worth using only in things where size and weight matter a lot, such as mobile phones. Drop that price and it could be deployed more widely. Neodymium is used in the magnets of motors in electric cars. Vanadium and tungsten give strength to steel, but at great expense. And the strength, lightness, high melting point and ability to resist corrosion of titanium make it an ideal material for building aircraft parts, supercars and medical implants-but it can cost 50 times as much as steel. Guppy Dhariwal, Metalysis’s boss, thinks however that the company can make titanium powder (the product of its new process) for less than a tenth of such powder’s current price. The Hall-Héroult method requires both input oxide and output metal to be in liquid form. That demands heat. The Metalysis trick is to do the electrolysis on powdered oxides directly, without melting them. The company’s first product is tantalum. Its factory is not much bigger than a house, but has enough capacity to supply 3-4 percent of the 2,500 tons of this metal that are used around the world each year. The resulting income, the firm hopes, will provide it with the grubstake it needs to move on to the big prize: titanium.
President Obama highlighted 3D printing in his recent State of the Union address, calling it the technology that “has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” Increasingly, with user-friendly computer programs and 3D printers, the designer can be anybody. Eventually, almost any object or parts for objects, may become 3D printable, including body implants, in a range of materials, including medals. Engineers and engineering students at the University of Virginia are using sophisticated 3D printing technology to make an array of objects, including a plastic airplane for an Army project. David Sheffler, a U.Va. professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and 20-year veteran of the aerospace industry, teaches 3D printing to engineering students and, in this Q&A, discusses the future of 3D printing in industry and society.
(MIT Technology Review) The exascale computing era is almost upon us and computer scientists are already running into difficulties. 1 exaflop is 10^18 floating point operations per second, that’s a thousand petaflops. The current trajectory of computer science should produce this kind of capability by 2018 or so. The problem is not processing or storing this amount of data-Moore’s law should take care of all that. Instead, the difficulty is uniquely human. How do humans access and make sense of the exascale data sets? In a nutshell, the problem is that human senses have a limited bandwidth-our brains can receive information from the external world at roughly gigabit rates. So a computer simulation at exascale data rates simply overwhelms us. The answer, of course, is to find some way to compress the output data without losing its essential features. Today, Akira Kageyama and Tomoki Yamada from Kobe University in Japan put forward a creative solution. These guys say the trick is to use “bullet time”, the Hollywood filming technique made famous by movies like The Matrix. Their idea is to surround the simulated action with thousands, or even millions, of virtual cameras that all record the action as it occurs. Humans can later “fly” through the action by switching from one camera angle to the next, just like bullet time.
Single atomic layers are combined to create novel materials with completely new properties. Layered oxide heterostructures are a new class of materials, which has attracted a great deal of attention among materials scientists in the last few years. A research team at the Vienna University of Technology (TUW), together with colleagues from the US and Germany, has now shown that these heterostructures can be used to create a new kind of extremely efficient ultrathin solar cells. “Single atomic layers of different oxides are stacked, creating a material with electronic properties which are vastly different from the properties the individual oxides have on their own”, says Karsten Held, a professor at TUW’s Institute for Solid State Physics. In order to design new materials with exactly the right physical properties, the structures were studied in large-scale computer simulation, and they discovered that the oxide heterostructures hold great potential for building solar cells. “The crucial advantage of the new material is that on a microscopic scale, there is an electric field inside the material, which separates electrons and holes,” says Elias Assmann, who carried out a major part of the computer simulations. The oxides used to create the material are actually isolators. However, if two appropriate types of isolators are stacked, an astonishing effect can be observed: the surfaces of the material become metallic and conduct electrical current. “For us, this is very important. This effect allows us to conveniently extract the charge carriers and create an electrical circuit,” says Held.
Last week a National Science Foundation-sponsored workshop addressed multidisciplinary approaches to the Materials Genome Initiative. From left: Gregory Rohrer, Abby Kavner, Young-Shin Jun, and Amy Walker. Credit: ACerS.
Genome (noun; origin 1930s: blend of gene and chromosome): the complete set of genes or genetic material present in a cell or organism.
The Materials Genome Initiative has gotten lots of attention since it was announced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in June 2011. Its stated goal (pdf) is simple: “… to discover, develop, manufacture, and deploy advanced materials at least twice as fast as possible today, at a fraction of the cost.”
In my opinion, “genome” is an unfortunate choice of word. Why? A genome is a constrained set. Perhaps a very large set, but the genome is limited to the genes that define the organism. In the human organism, that is about 23,000 genes. The Human Genome Project (HGP) sequenced and mapped the 23,000 genes in the human genome, which ended up involving about 3.3 billion base pairs.
The HGP narrowed the description of what we are made of by painting in the fine-strokes details. It was never about expanding the diversity of our basis or of life—no new organisms were “invented,” no additions to the genome were desired (for example, adding feathers to the anatomy), nor were any such innovations intended.
The idea of the MGI, in contrast, is to start with basic building blocks of matter—the fine structure—and discover new combinations of elements, i.e., materials, with end properties and functionalities in mind right from the start. The MGI is all about expanding the possibilities beyond that which is already mapped. And, with 116 elements comprising the periodic table of the elements, the possible combinations make 3.3 billion look paltry. (According to my “go to” mathematician, the number of ways you can combine up to just six elements or less of the 116 known elements exceeds three billion.)
Chances are you have seen the OSTP’s schematic of the “materials development continuum.” The beginning point is discovery of new materials, and this is where science researchers must take the lead in finding approaches to discovering the few hundred or thousand materials that are worth developing out of the many billion possibilities.
Last week, to address this issue, a group of researchers who work on ceramic materials gathered for a National Science Foundation-sponsored workshop, “The Materials Genome Initiative in Ceramics, Geosciences, and Solid-State Chemistry.” The workshop grew out of two previous “future directions” workshops: a 2011 workshop on “Materials by Design” at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the 2012 workshop on “Emerging Research Areas in Ceramic Science” in Arlington, Va.
About 20 researchers, mostly from academia, participated. They were an interesting mix of well-established scientists and new young-bloods, all working with ceramic materials, whether as materials scientists or as researchers from the geoscience, earth science, and solid-state chemistry and physics communities.
Alexandra Navrotsky, the brilliant and witty professor from the University of California, Davis, set the stage with her opening presentation by observing that there are striking commonalities between earth science and materials science. “The Materials Genome Initiative,” she said, “means different things to different people. It is up to the communities to define.” In her assessment, MGI means starting from first principles and CalPhaD-type calculations, mining data from databases, and designing new, smarter experiments. “Putting these together in a holistic fashion is the MGI,” she says.
Much common ground exists between the geosciences and materials science—both need structural, thermodynamic, and physical property data. Phase diagrams are very important in both fields. Both fields need kinetic and mechanistic information for modeling of impossible-to-observe phenomena, like the geoscience of Jupiter, for example.
Narrowing the idea somewhat, Krishna Rajan from Iowa State University, said, “MGI is about doing new science to solve pressing issues,” implying that new science should be driving solutions to new and urgent issues, not to incrementally improving existing technology. Incremental improvements may not be compelling to the business world, anyhow. For example, why would a company that specializes in refurbishing thermal barrier coatings be interested in a coating that lasts twice as long? To them, that looks like half as much work (read revenue). Similarly, a materials improvement that would require expensive retooling of a fabrication line may not be worth the trade-off.
The materials science and geoscience community share some common frustrations, for example, with the difficulty of modeling across multiple scales, especially length scales. This is true whether modeling the transition from the nanoscale to the mesoscale, or from meters to kilometers. Time scales matter, too. Modeling of processes that occur in picoseconds is challenging, but so is modeling of processes that occur in light years.
Given the challenges, what can modeling offer? Ram Seshadri from the University of California, Santa Barbara (and coorganizer of the workshop with Carnegie Mellon’s Gregory Rohrer) says, “looking at large data sets tells you where you will be wasting your time.” And the role of computation, according to Michelle Johannes of the Naval Research Laboratory, is to give experimentalists a “rough directional map, an explanation of trends, and suggestions for optimization of properties.” In return, the materials mathematicians need property data and characterization information (such as crystal structures) from the experimentalists.
All in attendance seemed to agree that access to data (that they liked) was a challenge with no easy (or cheap) solutions. There also seemed to be consensus that multidisciplinary dialog is extremely valuable, and this is an area where technical societies such as ACerS or the American Geophysical Union can help, perhaps by organizing multidisciplinary symposia, special issues of journals, or workshop-like meetings. (Last October, ACerS, took a step in this direction by setting up a structure for “Technical Interest Groups.” The idea of the TIGS is to provide a way for Society members and non-members to come together on a topic of mutual interest that does not really have a “home” in any particular society.)
Much of the discussion on data focused on the need for single crystal property data. The single crystal data gets you as close as possible to values for intrinsic properties. However, with a few exceptions, most engineered materials are not single crystals. Does that mean “junky” data is without value? Hardly! As one participant noted, much of the functionality of engineered materials we use today arises from their “junkiness,” whether from impure compositions or process effects or elsewhere.
There was much more, of course. The group will publish a report on the workshop in the ACerS Bulletin, which will capture in detail the issues, challenges, opportunities—and payoffs—of multidisciplinary approaches to materials discovery.