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High-throughput (Combinatorial) "Foundry" for Inorganic Materials: "Data on Demand"


We develop combinatorial measurement methods and metrologies for the rapid generation of comprehensive and consistent datasets. Manufacturers of devices based on functional inorganic materials can leverage these methodologies and/or datasets to screen and select new materials more rapidly and intelligently.


What is combinatorial materials science?

The goal of combinatorial materials science is high-throughput, high quality data generation to facilitate rapid materials discovery, optimization, development, and commercialization. There are three essential steps:

  • Make it. Synthesis of combinatorial A thin film combinatorial TiO2-HfO2-Y2O3 library with a continuous gradient in composition.thin film library in which the elemental composition varies continuously and predictably across the library sample.
  • Measure it. Rapid, local measurements of the properties of interest.
  • Inform and Iterate. Robust data handling and analysis techniques to convert experimental data into knowledge. This can be for design of the next experiment, as well as informing computational models.

What is it good for?
Applications-driven. We are exclusively interested in materials for which there is an industrial or government-agency need and application.
Model validation. Computer simulations of important advanced materials benefit from experimental input and validation, such as the self-consistent, high density datasets generated by combinatorial methods.

What are some example problems?
We are interested in materials for energy applications, as well as facilitating industrial process development.
Thermoelectrics. Thermoelectric phenomena enable the solid-state inter-conversion of thermal and electrical energy. Materials that efficiently convert heat into useful energy are desirable for Power factor in Sr, La-substituted Ca3Co4O9applications such as automotive engine waste heat recovery, where their use improves fuel efficiency and decreases CO2 emissions. In the example shown, the thermoelectric power factor is plotted as a function of composition for La and Sr substituted Ca3Co4O9, with a "sweet spot" close to (Ca2Sr0.7La0.3)Co4O9.

Materials for thermochromic smart windows that automatically darken on hot days. Vanadium dioxide (VO2) undergoes a thermochromic phase transition from a transparent state (low temperature) to a reflective state (high temperature); the transition temperature is in the range of 10ºC to 70ºC, depending on substitutional impurities such as tungsten.

Thin film 'working' phase diagrams. Thin films are Crystalline phase region (colors) in HfO2-TiO2-Y2O3 composition space. Open circles are amorphous.technologically important for many industries, but are often non-equilibrium and hence, published equilibrium bulk phase diagrams are of limited use in process development. Combinatorial synthesis enables high-throughput exploration of composition-microstructure-process parameter space.

Inside the combinatorial pulsed laser deposition (PLD) chamber. There is room for six different (chemically distinct) source materials.

Start Date:

October 24, 2008

End Date:


Lead Organizational Unit:


Associated Products:


Martin Green
Materials Measurement Science Division
(301) 975-8496