New projects worth millions announced on Materials Genome Initiative second anniversary | The American Ceramic Society

New projects worth millions announced on Materials Genome Initiative second anniversary

0625ctt MGI update

0625ctt MGI update

The Materials Genome Initiative aspires to reduce by half the time from materials discovery to manufacture. Credit: MGI; OSTP. 


The Materials Genome Initiative turned two yesterday, and the White House celebrated the birthday by announcing a flurry of new projects that involve sizeable investments from 20 or so collaborators.

According to a fact sheet (pdf) issued at the same time by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which oversees the MGI, these are new commitments from universities, federal agencies, industry, and professional societies. The value of the new commitments is not clear, but OSTP says in its fact sheet, “What started out as a modest investment of ~$63 million involving just four Federal agencies in 2012 has grown into a multi-stakeholder endeavor valued at hundreds of millions of dollars…”

The OSTP is calling them “commitments,” rather than projects, probably because the projects seem to be themselves layers of partnerships. For example, the University of Wisconsin has plans to work with Argonne National Laboratory, CAMECA and, according to its website, “UW-Madison, the University of Michigan and Georgia Tech together will begin dialog to begin building a nationwide network for materials innovation.” OSTP says the new projects build on the foundation layed by the five federal agencies that embraced MGI early on—the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, DOD, DOE, and NASA.

Some of these agencies have made very large commitments already—for example, the Army Research Laboratory’s Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials program, which we reported on in the March 2013 ACerS BulletinThe ARL program is worth up to $120 million over 10 years. A long time in the planning, the Enterprise’s vision for designing materials from fundamental principles arguably played a large role in developing the ideas that would eventually spawn the Materials Genome Initiative.

In addition to nongovernmental institutions, significant new investments were announced by federal agencies, most of which are interagency partnerships. In addition to the five agencies mentioned already, DARPA and the US Army are involved. There is at least one interesting new MGI participant mentioned in the fact sheet. The Smithsonian Associates—the education arm of the Smithsonian Institution—plans to produce a program on the history of advanced materials and their development for fall 2013.

The OSTP fact sheet fully describes the commitment partnerships. Here is a condensed, high-level summary taken from the OSTP press release.

NIST to Create New Center of Excellence in Support of MGI: The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is committing $25 million over 5 years to form a Center of Excellence on Advanced Materials. Only the second center of excellence in NIST history, it will create a collaborative environment and concentration of technical capability to accelerate materials discovery and development. NIST will also collaborate with ASM International and its Computational Materials Data Network to establish an open, digital repository of materials data.


Universities to Build a Materials Innovation Accelerator Network: In support of MGI goals, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the Georgia Institute of Technology are creating new Institutes in materials innovation with collective investments totaling ~$15 million while the

University of Michigan has committed to invest an additional $20 million MGI programs already underway. Moreover, all three universities will partner to launch a nationwide dialogue and begin work toward building a nationwide materials innovation accelerator network to better connect with other centers, institutes, future efforts, and MGI-related activity.


Public-Private Collaboration to Move Materials to Market Faster: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Intermolecular, Inc., are working together to more accurately predict material behavior with software tools made openly available by LBNL. Building on data from existing high-throughput combinatorial experimentation and simulation, researchers anticipate a set of tools that could increase the speed of new materials development ten-fold or more over conventional approaches.


Data on Millions of Materials to be Made Freely Available: Harvard University and IBM are releasing a freely available and open database describing 2.3 million new materials for potential use in solar cells – the largest open-access effort of its kind. Greater sharing of basic materials data is a core principle of the MGI, and these newly available data are expected to advance the development of a range of organic, electricity-generating devices, including some that could be coated, painted, or sprayed on roofs, windows, walls, and portable devices.


New Commitments in Education: Building on pledges made by more than 60 companies and universities last year to advance the MGI, seven more academic institutions and a software company are announcing new educational efforts around MGI that include curricula development, new graduate degrees, and research opportunities. For example, MIT is launching a new massive open online course (MOOC) focusing on innovation and commercialization with new materials.