Baek wins a new NSF grant to advance AI in materials science

The National Science Foundation has awarded Dr. Stephen Baek and his collaborators a new $1.64 million grant to develop novel meta-learning methods to accelerate design and discovery of new functional materials. The new project will harness recent innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) to establish a novel design and discovery cycle for complex materials that will dramatically accelerate material innovations. The team led by Dr. Baek is comprised of experts in artificial intelligence, machine learning, computational mechanics, material modeling, and advanced manufacturing from University of Iowa and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and will create new methodologies through which human materials scientists and AI will collaborate to discover optimal microstructural designs of such complex materials for targeted properties and performance.

A wide class of high-performance materials, including solid-solid composites, porous solids, foams, biological materials, and additively manufactured materials, have complex microstructures, which play a dominant role in determining their properties and performance. There are enormous opportunities and needs for innovating next-generation materials through performance-driven design and optimization of microstructures. The project will pioneer these opportunities through fundamental breakthroughs in AI for the design and machine learning of complex physical processes and will have a high impact on the materials research community. The success of this project will lead to an AI-driven material microstructure design framework, resulting in significant speedup in the discovery process of complex materials, as well as reducing the cost and labor required for material innovation by saving unnecessary “cut-and-try””” experiments. The AI-driven design framework will be easily scalable and applicable to a broad range of complex materials, which will benefit the design and manufacturing of functional materials, polymers, composites, biomaterials, etc. By providing an accelerated discovery cycle and reduced costs, the design framework will benefit the US industry and, thereby, contribute to the safety, national security, and technological advancement of society. As such, this project will significantly accelerate and advance the discovery and development of materials with desirable properties and functionality.