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Betty Crocker It Is Not

image credit: Marilyn Sargent, LBNL
John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant, Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

  • Member since 2013
  • 1,037 items added with 676,850 views
  • Jun 1, 2023

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I just started a paper with the following words: “Many of my papers start with a chemists identifying a material that performs a particular function much more effectively than the incumbent material.”

I completed the first draft of the above mentioned paper, and started reading my latest issue of Science Magazine, and encountered a new technology that will substantially accelerate the development of these new compounds.

Imagine a cookbook with 150,000 tempting dishes—but few recipes for making them. That’s the challenge facing an effort at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) known as the Materials Project. It has used computers to predict some 150,000 new materials that could improve devices such as battery electrodes and catalysts. But the database’s users around the globe have managed to make just a fraction of these for testing, leaving thousands untried. 

Now, LBNL has married artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to eliminate that bottleneck. The AI system makes a best guess at a recipe for a desired material and then iterates the reaction conditions as robots try to create physical samples. The new setup, known as the A-Lab, is already synthesizing about 100 times more new materials per day than humans in the lab can manage…


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