With supercomputers and the equations of quantum mechanics, scientists are designing new materials atom by atom, before ever running an experiment
Engineered materials such as chip-grade silicon and fiber-optic glass underpin the modern world. Yet designing new materials has historically involved a frustrating and inefficient amount of guesswork.
Streamlined versions of the equations of quantum mechanics—along with supercomputers that, using those equations, virtually test thousands of materials at a time—are eliminating much of that guesswork.
Researchers are now using this method, called high-throughput computational materials design, to develop new batteries, solar cells, fuel cells, computer chips, and other technologies.