Toyota Research Institute & Northwestern Unite To Aid World’s First Nanomaterial Data Factory

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and Northwestern University have joined hands to aid the acceleration of new materials discovery, design and development with the world’s first nanomaterial “data factory.”

This methodology, driven by artificial intelligence, greatly transcends the standard trial and error through the exploration of extensive parameter sets, data collection and then empowering AI to search the materials genome to look for the best materials for an application. While the first application of the data factory will be employed to aid the discovery of new catalysts to add to the efficiency of fuel cell vehicles, Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and Northwestern are of the view that this methodology of discovery of materials will have wide-ranging applications in the coming time, like clean hydrogen production, Carbon Dioxide removal from air and high-efficiency solar cells.

“Meeting the growing demand for mobility without emitting carbon is a major challenge,” said Brian Storey, TRI senior director of energy and materials. “Through this partnership with Northwestern, we have significantly reduced the time it takes to test and find new materials that can be used in batteries and fuel cells to decarbonize transportation.”

“This groundbreaking research marks an inflection point in how we discover and develop critical materials,” said Chad Mirkin, director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology and the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern. “Together with TRI, we’re poised to empower the scientific community to find the best materials that can truly power the clean energy transition.”

The partners claim that TRI and Northwestern came up with a machine learning algorithm that boasts of the ability to synthesize materials at excellent speeds to sift through Northwestern’s new Megalibraries (refers to a library containing more new inorganic materials than scientists have collected and categorized). Combined, these ideas give birth to the first nanomaterial data factory — an effort towards creating and mining complex, large sets of high-quality first-party data.

This novel approach is being put to use to look for catalysts that can replace exorbitant, rare materials that the world depends on presently, such as platinum and iridium.

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