Friday, January 3, 2014

Materials genome

Research from Duke indicates that the recently launched “Materials Genome Initiative,” is already beginning to yield results. Their study published in Physics describes a new Platinum group compounds with interesting properties. Humans are finally shaking off the perils of industrial revolution, when scale was the only consideration – mine, smelt, roll, build and sell – to the masses. Early automotive tycoons didn’t even want to color their end products as they feared loss of efficiency.

Lack of progress in materials sciences has held humans back in virtually every field. In computing, packing conventional silicon ever closer to increase speed has led to thermal and quantum tunneling limitations in chip design. In space travel, inelegant designs that use massive amounts of conventional fuel to propel heavy payloads into orbits, has been the norm for decades. In medicine, drug delivery continues to rely on decade long techniques that is akin to carpet bombing with little access to the brain. In transportation, traditional materials based designs are responsible for the highest number of deaths on the road and high energy use in other modalities. Century old building techniques and materials have led to energy inefficient homes aiding accelerating green house effect.

It is time to step back from mass manufacturing to intelligent materials based design in every field.