Moore's Law, Materials Science & The Future of Energy

January 02 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Science   Year: 2014   Rating: 2

energy shapes

We are not going to 'consume' ourselves into a future global economy driven by clean energy technologies. 

We have to build it using new scientific knowledge based on nanoscale interactions of light and molecules  mostly- carbon, hydrogen, oxygen reacting to metals and enzymes. 

Energy = Interactions
Creating 'clean energy' means using materials that make these molecular interactions that capture and release energy more efficient and less wasteful.

While consumers might be the ones who get the credit for changing behavior, the real heros of our cleantech energy future will be people involved in chemistry, biology, physics and materials engineering.

And the good news is that these scientists are increasingly turning to advanced computers and simulation software to accelerate the development of energy related materials!

Computational Power & Materials Science - Recent Examples for Materials Science 

There is no real evidence for the semiconductor industry's 'Moore's Law' (doubling of transitors every 18 months) for the energy sector.

But there is a clear advantage to using increasing exponential computational in developing new materials used for energy production, storage and distribution.

So Moore's Law does matter, for materials science!

Better Living through Chemistry Computers
When we are looking for materials that make better solar cells, batteries, fuel cells, or membranes that can clean up carbon, we must create and test hundreds of materials with different chemical combinations.  It is a costly and time consuming process.

There is another way to advance cleantech materials.

Instead of making them in the real world, we can create computational models of materials and run simulations that eliminate bad choices. Computers are likely to play a lead role in the evolution of the cleantech sector.

Even better news is that the computational power of computers and ability to network distributed computers into one 'grid' continues to expand with no real end in sight.  And as computational power increases, so does our ability to find materials that make cleaner energy possible. 

Solid Hydrogen, Solar Cells and Climate Modeling

Earlier we featured a story on the use of advanced computational power to identify a solid storage system for hydrogen based on a light alloy of magnesium, titanium and nickel.

We also wrote about MIT's use of computational power to explore materials used to improve solar cell efficiency by 50% with a new anti-reflection coating. 

We also covered the release of a Harvard-IBM project called World Community Grid that allows materials science researchers to use volunteers' computers for calculations testing new solar compounds.

Now, Scientific America's blog has highlighted Climate Prediction network, a new project that helps model complex interactions associated with planetary systems.

If materials simulation and climate modeling can help accelerate the development of effective solutions, it might be the 'computer' that gets all the credit in the end.

Image credit: protozoo Flickr CC License


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Comment Thread (1 Response)

  1. Good post – out future depends on innovation and efficient discovery

    Posted by: ZZTools   January 03, 2009
    Vote for this comment - Recommend