DOE Lab Opens Access to New Materials Database

The U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has just given materials science an enormous gift that is expected to help researchers developing new materials. The lab has published the world’s largest set of data on the complete elastic properties of inorganic compounds, increasing by an order of magnitude the number of compounds for which such data exists.

Those expected to profit most from the newly released data are researchers developing new materials where mechanical properties are important, such as for hard coatings, or stiff materials for cars and airplanes. The database contains information on more than 1,100 compounds, with more being added all the time.

Why the data is important

The Materials Project, as the database is known, uses supercomputers to calculate the properties of all known materials based on first-principles quantum-mechanical frameworks. The data is particularly important because information on a compound’s elastic properties are very useful for material design but quite difficult and tedious to measure experimentally, according to one of the  Berkeley Lab materials scientists. A compound’s elastic constant is not just one number but a whole tensor, or array of numbers, because the direction in which a material is being pulled or sheared matters.

How to access the data

You can access the Materials Project through this link. The researchers have also created an entire YouTube playlist of tutorials to help other scientists get the most out of the database. The tutorials cover everything from registering to use the database to understanding and downloading the data.