Sequencing material genome with big data

Twenty years.

That’s the average amount of time it takes to create new materials that may hold some game changing potential.

According to science, technology and culture publication the Verge, it too just under nine years for the Boeing 787 to takeoff from the drafting table to the skies and just two years for Apple Inc. to get its first iPhone into the hands of smart phone users.

On the other, research and development of new materials goes through decades of research and development to bear fruit.

To unclog this innovation bottleneck, researchers in the United States appear to be focused in cloning the success of the Human Genome Project an applying it to the development of new materials.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of Defence, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards Technology, the Materials Genome Initiative aims to support the development of computational tools, software, open standards and databases and new processes so that discovery and development of advanced materials could be less expensive, faster and more predictable.

The program has brought together several successful projects such as the Materials Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Clean Energy Project.

Both projects are making use of huge databases filled with information gleaned from the Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations which uses quantum mechanics to predict properties of physical substances that is being modeled.

The databases can be of use to scores of researchers around the world that may be working on various materials projects.

For example, the Harvard Clean Energy Project resulted in the creation of a huge database of 2.3 million compounds which can be investigated and explored by humans and machine for potential solutions for materials problems.

With the amount of data being shared in these online databases, the proponents of the Materials Genome Initiative hope to speed up and spread out the development of new materials.

Read the whole story here


Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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