Machine Learning Approaches Will Be Ubiquitous Across Chemical and Materials Companies

IDTechEx logo 400

July 21, 2020

In the future, all materials scientists and chemists will have access to machine learning tools to enhance their R&D. Seamlessly integrating these underlying operations will not happen quickly, but overlooking the developments in materials informatics will lead to a loss of any competitive advantage.  

Materials informatics (MI) is data-centric approaches to materials science and certain chemistry R&D. There is little doubt that this will be a common method in a research scientist toolkit, and rather than grabbing the headlines, some form of MI techniques will be assumed in all developments. The key to MI is around the integration, implementation, and manipulation of data infrastructures as well as machine learning approaches designed for chemical and materials datasets.

There is a large amount of evidence for this, but the best comes from how the industry are responding. There has been a large amount of activity over recent years, including partnerships, investments, and announcements from some of the most notable chemical and materials companies; this is outlined in the image below, showing a snapshot of these headlines. A previous article highlighted why this adoption is happening now. For more information on how these companies are utilizing this technology and the outlook for this field, please see the IDTechEx report, “Materials Informatics 2020-2030”.

The machine learning itself can be used in multiple different projects from finding new structure-property relationships, proposing new candidates or process conditions, reducing the number of expensive and time-consuming computer simulations, and more. The ML approaches can take numerous forms of supervised and unsupervised learning methods; generative models can be effective at screening for optimized outputs across organic compounds while even simple modified random forest models can be useful for proposing follow-on reactions to meet a desired set of criteria. This is still at an early stage with a lot more development required; much can be leveraged from existing developments in AI but integrating specialist domain knowledge and coping with the unique challenges of a materials dataset is essential.

The application space is broad, and studies have shown success ranging from organometallics, thermoelectrics, nanomaterials, and ceramics through to many more. This article will highlight 4 areas of note that MI is already impacting. IDTechEx covers a large number of the relevant application areas, information on these are included in the market report to contextualize the significance of these MI-enabled R&D projects.

Soft Materials is a loose term that spans a wide range of foams, lubricants, adhesives, polymers, and more. It is this area where materials informatics will see the earliest success. With a large list of feedstock combinations and process conditions, these formulations are excellent considerations for MI to be employed.

For most applications, there are comparatively few barriers to entry, and the properties can be physical (viscosity, tensile strength, glass temperature, etc) through to other considerations such as toxicity, cost, and in the supply chain. Nearly all MI companies have clients in this field, polyurethanes and epoxy resins are the most typically explored but the potential here alone is significant.  

Additive Manufacturing is an area rapidly embracing MI approaches for both polymer and metallic materials. This is a rapidly emerging technology and IDTechEx forecast that the materials will be the dominant source of annual revenue. Many have leveraged existing materials for the processes, but developing feedstocks bespoke for the unique processes can help unlock the full potential of this sector.

There is a large interest in metals, in particular, QuesTek Innovations, Intellegens, Exponential Technologies, and Citrine Informatics have all been active in this field, with the latter working with HRL Laboratories to produce an AM aluminium alloy registered by the Aluminium Association. As well as offering platforms and research projects many also use these advanced R&D approaches to build IP portfolios. OxMet Technologies carry this out for multiple alloys, particularly high-temperature nickel-superalloys, and Phaseshift Technologies target amorphous alloys using the fast cooling rate of the printing process.

IDTechEx have notable technical market reports in the field of additive manufacturing including a new report, “Metal Additive Manufacturing 2020-2030”, that provides granular forecasts by technology, application, material, and geography with detailed player profiles. Despite an inevitable fall, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this market is forecast to exceed $10bn within the next decade.

Energy Storage is one of the main areas of R&D spending across science and engineering companies. The upcoming boom in electric vehicles (on land, sea, and air) as well as in opportunities like stationary energy storage means that nearly everyone is looking to get involved. Some may be losing their market as internal combustion engines are displaced and others may be seeing the opportunity to engage with a previously inaccessible lucrative sector. IDTechEx has a large portfolio in the electric vehicle and energy storage field and forecast the annual demand to be over 1 TWh for lithium-ion batteries within the next decade. IDTechEx cover all applications of energy storage, the end of life considerations, and the technical changes at cell and pack level for lithium-ion and post lithium-ion variants. For more information see “Electric Vehicles 2020-2030: 2nd Edition” and “Li-ion Batteries 2020-2030”.

Fundamentally, most of the energy storage developments are at the material level. From advanced cathodes and anodes through to solid-state electrolytes and beyond. There are numerous considerations in terms of thermal stability, potential, cycle life, and capacity not to mention how those materials are deposited and processed as well as economic and supply chain considerations. This makes it a prime area for materials informatics and is already highly evident with Toyota Research Institute, Samsung, Saft and more actively exploring this field.

Organic Electronics is another exciting area that covers a wide range of sectors and includes attractive features such as simple processing, substrate compatibility, a tunability. This has found applications in displays, sensors, photovoltaics, and so much more spanning numerous verticals. IDTechEx also extensively cover this sector with their leading renowned report on “Flexible, Printed and Organic Electronics 2020-2030: Forecasts, Technologies, Markets”. With a market potential to exceed $40Bn within the next decade.

Materials informatics also has an opportunity here and is being exploited. From Samsung looking at OTFT and OPV candidates, to Panasonic investigate heteroacenes with appropriate charge mobility, and Kebotix exploring electrochromics for smart windows. There is a huge potential in this field waiting to be further explored.

As has been seen, materials informatics has a large potential across multiple sectors. IDTechEx has released a leading report covering this topic: “Materials Informatics 2020-2030”.

This includes forecasts for MI companies, roadmaps, profiles, technology assessments, and application areas. IDTechEx leverage their expertise in multiple key verticals to bring the reader key insights and contextualize the significance of these developments.

For more information on this report, please visit or for the full portfolio of research available from IDTechEx please visit

Related Articles

Changing Scene

Sponsored Content
The Easy Way to the Industrial IoT

The way to the Industrial IoT does not have to be complicated. Whether access to valuable data is required or new, data-driven services are to be generated, Weidmuller enables its customers to go from data to value the easy way. Weidmuller’s comprehensive and cutting-edge IIoT portfolio applies to greenfield and brownfield applications. Weidmuller offers components and solutions from data acquisition, data pre-processing, data communication and data analysis.

Visit Weidmuller’s Industrial IoT Portfolio.

ADVANCED Motion Controls Takes Servo Drives to New Heights (and Depths) with FlexPro Extended Environment Product Line

Advanced Motion Controls is proud to announce the addition of six new CANopen servo drives with Extended Environment capabilities to their FlexPro line. These new drives join AMC’s existing EtherCAT Extended Environment FlexPro drives, making the FlexPro line the go-to solution for motion control applications in harsh environments.

Many motion control applications take place in conditions that are less than ideal, such as extreme temperatures, high and low pressures, shocks and vibrations, and contamination. Electronics, including servo drives, can malfunction or sustain permanent damage in these conditions.

Read More

Service Wire Co. Announces New Titles for Key Executives

Bruce Kesler and Mark Gatewood have been given new titles and responsibilities for Service Wire Co.

Bruce Kesler has assumed the role of Senior Director – Business Development. Bruce will be responsible for Service Wire’s largest strategic accounts and our growing Strategic Accounts Team.

Mark Gatewood has been promoted to the role of Vice President – Sales & Marketing. In this role, Gatewood will lead the efforts of Service Wire Company’s entire sales and marketing organization in all market verticals.

Read More

Tri-Mach Announces the Purchase of an Additional 45,000 sq ft. Facility

Tri-Mach Elmira Facility

Recently, Tri-Mach Inc. was thrilled to announce the addition of a new 45,000 sq ft. facility. Located at 285 Union St., Elmira, ON, this facility expands Tri-Mach’s capabilities, allowing them to better serve the growing needs of their customers.

Positioning for growth, this additional facility will allow Tri-Mach to continue taking on large-scale projects, enhance product performance testing, and provide equipment storage for their customers. The building will also be the new home to their Skilled Trades Centre of Excellence.

Read More

JMP Parent Company, CONVERGIX Acquires AGR Automation, Expanding Global Reach

Convergix Automation Solutions has completed the acquisition of AGR Automation (“AGR”), a UK-based provider of custom, high-performance automation design and systems integration primarily to the life sciences industry.

Following Convergix’s acquisitions of JMP Solutions in August 2021 and Classic Design in February 2022, AGR marks the third investment in Crestview’s strategy to build Convergix into a diversified automation solutions provider targeting the global $500+ billion market, with a particular focus on the $70 billion global systems integration and connectivity segments. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Read More

Latest Articles

  • How Rittal and EPLAN Achieve Your Automation Goals

    How Rittal and EPLAN Achieve Your Automation Goals

    In the not-so-distant past, planning a road trip meant poring over maps and dealing with uncertainties like road construction, accidents, or bad weather. But with modern technology like GPS navigation, travelers can now anticipate and adjust their routes in real-time. Similar to road trips, the journey of panel builders, machine builders, and system integrators in… Read More…

  • Discussing Vancouver’s Building Emissions By-Law with Schneider Electric’s Emily Heitman

    Discussing Vancouver’s Building Emissions By-Law with Schneider Electric’s Emily Heitman

    The city of Vancouver is the first Canadian jurisdiction to pass a by-law regulating building emissions. The Annual Greenhouse Gas and Energy Limits bylaw will come into effect June 1st, 2024, and requires building owners for large commercial offices, retail, and residential buildings over 100,000 sq ft to report their emissions. The bylaw follows cities… Read More…