Free, Massive Database for Materials Research

Which is why a new online toolkit developed at MIT and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory may be highly relevant to a wide arrange of engineers and researchers in the automotive community.

Which is why a new online toolkit developed at MIT and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory may be highly relevant to a wide arrange of engineers and researchers in the automotive community.

It is a website called, modestly, the “Materials Project.” It is a database consisting of more than 18,000 chemical compounds (the number continues to grow). Those using it can find out how two compounds will react with one another, what the consequent molecular structure L will be, and the stability of the compound under heat and temperature conditions.

The database runs on supercomputing capacity at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, so work that once required months (e.g., creating a phase diagram showing when a compound of several different elements would be solid, liquid or gas) can be performed in mere minutes.

The Materials Project is free. All you need to do is register.

So far more than 500 researchers have availed themselves of the system for applications including finding new materials for lithium-ion batteries and for finding alloys for use in cars and trucks.

It wasn’t all that long ago, comparatively speaking, that if you were to talk to someone about automotive batteries, “lead-acid” would be the operative term. And as automotive engineers are looking for ways to provide lighter vehicular structures (in part because said vehicles are being powered by electricity, so mass really matters), they are venturing into materials realms unknown.