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An integrated autonomous simulation and human experimental workflow showing computer-aided discovery and experimental feedback to downselect candidate systems.
Energy & Materials
How the AI-assisted discovery and synthesis of a ternary oxide highlights capability gaps in materials science 1 Minute Read

Exploratory synthesis has been the main generator of new inorganic materials for decades. However, our Edisonian and bias-prone processes of synthetic exploration alone are no longer sufficient in an age that demands rapid advances in materials development. In this work, we demonstrate an end-to-end attempt towards systematic, computer-aided discovery and laboratory synthesis of inorganic crystalline compounds as a modern alternative to purely exploratory synthesis. Our approach initializes materials discovery campaigns by autonomously mapping the synthetic feasibility of a chemical system using density functional theory with AI feedback. Following expert-driven down-selection of newly generated phases, we use solid-state synthesis and in situ characterization via hot-stage X-ray diffraction in order to realize new ternary oxide phases experimentally. We applied this strategy in six ternary transition-metal oxide chemistries previously considered well-explored, one of which culminated in the discovery of two novel phases of calcium ruthenates. Detailed characterization using room temperature X-ray powder diffraction, 4D-STEM and SQUID measurements identifies the structure and composition and confirms distinct properties, including distinct defect concentrations, of one of the new phases formed in our experimental campaigns. While the discovery of a new material guided by AI and DFT theory represents a milestone, our procedure and results also highlight a number of critical gaps in the process that can inform future efforts towards the improvement of AI-coupled methodologies. READ MORE