It has now been about seven weeks since the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) was announced by the Obama Administration. Not too much public activity appears to have happened over these seven weeks (the University Materials Council, not surprisingly, endorsed the MGI in a July 27, 2011 letter). We noted the MGI in our June 25, 2011 blog, and will attempt to follow MGI developments particularly as applied to nanotech and cleantech. The Obama administration is apparently seeking $100M for FY 2012 funding and will begin "roadmap" work to develop the ideas more.
The MGI is summarized in an 18 page "white paper," and relates to …
expanded use of information technology and computer to increase the rate of commercialization for new materials. The MGI depends heavily on a lengthy 2008 report from the National Research Council on "Integrated Computational Materials Engineering." We also noted a website, which apparently represents a collective effort in the space by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. and MIT (the goal being "accelerating materials discovery through advanced scientific computing and innovative design tools").
One way to view the MGI is it is part of the larger convergence of information technology, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. It also appears to represent an example of research on how to do research. The 18 page report makes brief reference to nanotechnology and the nanoHUB open innovation program at the NSF for computational nanotechnology. The MGI does not provide any particular insights into the intellectual property issues that arise when collaboration occurs with a commercial flavor. It espouses "open innovation."
Clearly, based on the opening proposals, themes of nanotechnology and cleantech presumably will heavily influence the MGI. Nevertheless, connections with the NNI are not mentioned.
Oh,.. why does Captain Kirk appear in this blog title? I was just reflecting on that old Star Trek episode "Arena" where Kirk had to use his wits and the elemental materials of nature to construct a crude cannon and defeat a reptile-like enemy. That episode was first shown over forty years ago. Materials science has come so far since then, including the development of nanomaterials and biomaterials which were scarcely conceived then. Man continues to discover and figure out what to do with the materials nature gives us, now focusing more on the use of computers to figure things out. What will the future hold, and how will MGI get us there?