Materials informatics (MI) is a methodology for materials development using information science, and utilizes digital technology for product design in manufacturing industries such as the chemical industry. MI refers to efforts to improve the efficiency of material development using big data, AI, machine learning, etc. This can speed up the material development process. Conventional material development often takes time and effort, so MI uses computational science and information science to calculate the properties of physical properties and analyze past data to advance material exploration. MI is an initiative that can be said to be DX in material development, and progress in the industry is expected through the combination of researchers’ experience and data.
Efforts for MI in the world and Japan
The field of materials development is an important element of industry and innovation, and the establishment of research systems for materials informatics (MI) is progressing in countries around the world. In the United States, the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) started in 2011, and there was a successful example of deriving similar results from data analysis alone without conducting experiments in the development of battery materials. Various efforts are also being made in Europe, China, and South Korea.
In Japan, the Strategic Innovation Creation Program (SIP) started in 2013, and a national effort on materials informatics was launched. After that, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Initiative for Information Integrated Materials Development (MI2I) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s budget project were implemented, and efforts to speed up material development continued. Data sharing beyond the framework of companies is important in MI, and it is attracting attention as a global trend.
Future considerations for the development of MI
As the direction of the government’s efforts, platform development and extraction of research areas are emphasized.
Platform development mainly refers to infrastructure development for data sharing. In materials informatics, it is essential to have a mechanism that allows researchers at companies and research facilities to share high-quality materials data. The government plans to formulate common guidelines, develop shared facilities and equipment, and promote data-driven research and development projects.
In addition, the government is also trying to extract areas that should be promoted, considering the future and important technology areas. Specific areas include “Realization of Eco-Society 5.0 with ultra-low power consumption” and “Materials that enable the expression of advanced device functions”. As a result, we plan to proceed with the creation of a mechanism for promoting strategic research.
Introduce examples of MI initiatives by Japanese companies.
Asahi Kasei has stated in its medium-term management plan that it will strengthen MI as part of its digital transformation, and utilizes MI in all material development. We plan to establish an informatics promotion center and increase the number of digital professionals.
Sumitomo Chemical plans to establish a Digital Transformation Department in its medium-term management plan with the aim of improving the efficiency and sophistication of data-driven research and development. Issues include developing a data infrastructure, building an MI platform, and analyzing data.
Toray is promoting advanced material research through digital manufacturing. We are working to improve the efficiency of research and development by utilizing simulations and MI that combine theoretical calculations and data science. We are also making use of our in-house data infrastructure and speeding up the creation of prototypes.
Yokohama Rubber is working to improve the efficiency of material development through MI. By developing multi-purpose design exploration simulation technology and searching simulation results using AI, we are realizing the reduction of man-hours for material development and the discovery of new design approaches.
Through these companies’ efforts, MI is playing an important role in materials development. MI is having a significant impact on digital technology in materials development in the chemical industry. DX is bringing anticipation and a sense of crisis to the industry, not only in the assembly manufacturing industry, but also in the process system.
Through these companies’ efforts, MI is playing an important role in materials development.
MI is making a significant impact of digital technology in materials development in the chemical industry. DX is bringing anticipation and a sense of crisis to the industry, not only in the assembly manufacturing industry, but also in the process system.