Since the Stone Age the mastery of materials has always played a key role for societal and economic progress. Today the study of materials lies at the heart of the research field Materials Science & Engineering (MSE). This scientific discipline aims to characterize materials and study their processing and manufacturing with the ultimate goal to design materials with optimized properties and to maximize reusability at their end-of-life.
One challenge particular to MSE data is their inherent multiscale character. This is caused by the strongly heterogeneous microstructures present in virtually all materials, ranging from crystal defects at the atomistic level, through microscale secondary phases up to macroscale pores. Any process applied to a sample may change the material’s microstructure and, thereby, its complete mechanical and a substantial fraction of its functional performance.
Due to the vast number of different experimental, computational and analytical methods to reveal these dependencies, essentially every lab is presently developing its own data tools and “recipes. This rapid but uncoordinated development hampers the digital transformation in MSE as well as the implementation of the FAIR principles. Therefore, the MSE-specific digital data space, as envisaged by NFDI-MatWerk, has to track the various highly complex dependencies of materials data while reducing the technological barriers within the community in order to enable synergies. To this end, NFDI-MatWerk envisages a materials ontology that is represented through a graph database infrastructure. This enables data sharing as well as highly performant, complex search queries and analysis runs over distributed and decentral data sources and presents an excellent basis for next generation AIs. The seamless integration of decentralized data and metadata, experimental and computational workflows and the materials ontology ensures maximum interoperability and reproducibility of the underlying research data processing.
The development of this infrastructure is a community-driven process. The data usage profiles of many Participant Projects from different sub-disciplines have been analyzed to identify the most relevant scientific scenarios within MSE. The resulting Infrastructure Use Cases are continuously guiding and challenging the development of our infrastructure. NFDI-MatWerk already today involves more than 80% of the MSE community, putting our stated goal of having “everyone on board after the start of the project well within reach. As our recent survey revealed, the community regards NFDI-MatWerk as a unique chance to bundle the numerous individual materials data activities into a Digital Materials Knowledge Environment, therewith boosting the scientific productivity and satisfaction of each individual researcher within MSE.
Link to the event information of the webinar "NFDI-MatWerk – an overview and discussion of the next steps", you find here.