A NIMS-Ehime University joint research team succeeded in discerning new materials that exhibit superconductivity under high pressures, using materials informatics (MI) approaches (data science-based material search techniques). This study experimentally established that MI enables efficient investigation of new superconducting materials. MI approaches may be applicable to the development of various functional materials, including superconductors.
Superconducting materials which enable long-distance electricity transmission without energy loss in the absence of electrical resistance are considered to be a key technology in solving environmental and energy issues. The conventional approach by researchers searching for new superconducting materials or other materials has been to rely on circulated information on material properties, such as crystalline structures and valence numbers, and their own experience and intuition.
But, this approach is time-consuming, expensive and very difficult since it necessitates widespread and in-depth production of related materials. As such, demand has been high for the development of new methods enabling more efficient exploration of new materials with desirable properties.
This joint research team took advantage of the AtomWork database, which contains more than 100,000 pieces of data on inorganic crystal structures. The team first selected approximately 1,500 candidate material groups whose electronic states could be determined through calculation. Two material, SnBi2Se4 and PbBi2Te4 were eventually selected as they were fairly easy to manufacture.