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Materials Data Facility Launches in Support of Material Genome Initiative

By Elizabeth Nicole Murray // June 19, 2014

On the third anniversary of President Barack Obama establishing the Material Genome Initiative (MGI)—a multi-agency effort to transform materials science research in the United States through a national infrastructure—a consortium of research universities, national laboratories, and academic publishers announced the Materials Data Facility today.

This new facility is being established as a pilot program under the National Data Service (NDS) and will provide a repository where scientists can preserve and share materials research data, produced by both simulations and experiments.

NDS is a new emerging vision for a national data infrastructure that enables the discovery, reuse, and publication of data for scientists and researchers across all disciplines. Sharing in this vision, the Materials Data Facility will push the MGI’s goals of doubling the pace of development of advanced materials research.

“This will be the first on-line facility to build on the objectives of the National Data Service by providing open access to a broad a range of materials science data. This is a terrific opportunity to accelerate materials discovery and advance manufacturing, by deeply connecting research, data and publication activities,” says Ed Seidel, director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a founding institution of the NDS Consortium.

Through the facility’s cloud-hosted data publication and discovery services, materials research projects will have an essential platform for rapid data sharing, discovery, and analysis that will accelerate the process for bringing new materials into industrial use. Key components of the facility will include multi-petabyte storage environments at NCSA and at Argonne National Laboratory, as well as the Globus research data management service operated by the Computation Institute, a joint initiative of Argonne and the University of Chicago.

According to Dane Morgan, Computational Materials Group, Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also a member of the NDS Consortium, open access to materials data on a massive scale will enable better use and reuse of valuable data and make the research and manufacturing processes more efficient. “From higher energy density batteries to lighter stronger metals, a Materials Data Facility has the potential to transform the materials which underlie much of modern technology,” says Dr. Morgan.

William P. King, Bliss Professor of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Chief Technology Officer at the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, agrees with Dr. Morgan. “There is a natural fit between the National Data Service, the Materials Genome Initiative, and the Digital Design and Manufacturing Innovation Institute, announced by President Obama in February,” King continues. “American manufacturing companies can realize the benefits of digital manufacturing technologies only if they have access to high quality materials data.”

The Materials Data Facility will serve as a prototype for the National Data Service—an infrastructure supporting data from across all disciplines of science, engineering, and humanities. The NDS Consortium is an international federation of data providers, data aggregators, community-specific federations, publishers, and cyberinfrastructure providers brought together to turn this vision into an operational system. The effort builds on the data archiving and sharing efforts already under way within specific communities and unifies them with a common set of tools to eliminate data and computational bottlenecks and advance discovery across all fields.