Evan Reed: How to discover a magic material
Evan Reed and a team of scientists recently identified a promising solid material that could replace highly flammable liquid electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries.
The trick? Reed didn’t discover the material the old-fashioned way, using trial and error to narrow down a list of candidates. Instead, he used computers to do the legwork for him. He says that until recent advances in computer science, the seemingly never-ending search for new materials was more like a quest for unicorns. Breakthrough materials must possess that rarest of combinations: precise physical characteristics with few if any downsides.
It’s exacting and time-consuming work, Reed says, but computers are accelerating the pace of discovery. He now believes the future of materials science lies at the heart of a computer algorithm, as he tells listeners in this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast. Listen and subscribe here.