NSF Awards University $2.9M for Advanced Materials Lab

October 27, 2016

2 Min Read
NSF Awards University $2.9M for Advanced Materials Lab
Graphene, an advanced material. Image courtesy of the University at Buffalo

The State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) received a $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop an automated computer laboratory for advanced materials research that compiles visual data like charts and images in a database, the university announced Wednesday. The laboratory’s system will also be able to analyze and learn from the data – both visual and text information – as part of the development of new advanced materials.

“Essentially, we’re creating a system – a smart robot – with cognitive skills for scientific interpretation of text, graphs, and images,” explained Krishna Rajan, who leads UB’s Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI), a collaborative effort between UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the school’s College of Arts and Sciences formed in 2014, adding, “This machine intelligence driven approach will open a new trajectory of data-intensive materials science research impacting both computational and experimental studies.”

The laboratory will execute large-scale materials modelling and simulations based on “untapped troves” of visual data in the hope of accelerating the discovery of new materials, a university statement said. As part of its mission to encourage development of new advanced materials, the data and research will be available to the broader scientific community.

Named the Materials Data Engineering Laboratory at UB (MaDE @UB), university leaders have high aspirations for the facility:

“This pioneering and multidisciplinary approach to advanced materials research will provide the scientific community with tools it needs to accelerate the pace of discovery,” leading to greater economic security and a wide range of societal benefits,” said a statement by Venu Govindaraju, PhD, vice president of research and economic development at UB, and the grant’s principal investigator.

Awarded by the NSF’s Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBS) program, the new effort expands on UB’s previous work in artificial intelligence. In the 1980’s researchers at UB developed a system of machines that could read human handwriting. According to the university, this discovery has resulted in cost savings for postal organizations globally.

“The lab will introduce the tools of machine intelligence – such as machine learning, pattern recognition, materials informatics and modeling, high-performance computing and other cutting-edge technologies – to transform data libraries into a laboratory that not only stores and searches for information, but also predicts and processes information to discover materials that transform how society addresses climate change, national security and other pressing issues,” the university said.

For related articles, news, and equipment reviews, visit our Equipment Zones

Sign up for the Powder & Bulk Solids Weekly newsletter.

You May Also Like