What is material informatics

News portal - Ruhr University Bochum

In the future, a lot will depend on materials, for example whether the energy transition will succeed. Materials researchers from Bochum have made a lot of talk with their methods in the past few months. Prof. Dr. Alfred Ludwig, Managing Director of the Center for Surface-Dominated High-Performance Materials at the RUB, dares to look ahead.

Prof. Ludwig, your chair has recently been called “Materials Discovery and Interfaces”. So you are expecting discoveries at your chair - what makes you so confident?
We have already made some discoveries in recent years, but also a lot of work to improve already known materials. With the new name we express that we want to see the discovery of new materials as our main task.

We have developed the tools for this over the past 16 years. Now we want to use them, but at the same time accelerate the process with the methods of materials informatics.

Which properties of materials are currently particularly popular?
I think that new materials are urgently needed for the energy systems of the future, for example new catalysts for fuel cells, new permanent magnets. But we also need new multifunctional materials such as shape memory alloys for the ongoing megatrend of miniaturization and functional integration.

What will be the greatest challenges for materials research in the coming years?
To master the use of material informatics up to autonomous experiments.

In ten years' time, inverse design will be possible.

If we look ten years into the future of materials research: how will a tailor-made material be developed?
Inverse design will then be possible, that is, you define the desired material properties and then have the opportunity to manufacture this desired material directly. To do this, we now have to create the database with automated experiments and intensify the collaboration between experimental and computer-based material researchers.

I think that in Bochum we have optimal conditions for this.