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Materials Scientists Look to a Data-Intensive Future

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Science  23 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6075, pp. 1434-1435
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6075.1434

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Summary

Materials researchers are hoping a technological ramp-up will help them calculate the properties of a near-infinite variety of solids to identify potential materials breakthroughs for batteries, solar cells, and many other applications. Today's computers aren't yet able to simulate all types of materials. But researchers think steady progress in technology has now made supercomputers powerful and available enough to make the task worth starting. The White House announced a new federal effort last June to promote the use of high-performance computing to cut in half the time it takes to develop a new material. Known as the Materials Genome Initiative, the effort promised $100 million just this year to drastically accelerate materials discovery—particularly in alternative energy, a field heavily reliant on advanced materials. Since then, the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy have offered new grant programs in the area.