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UT Arlington genomic data-mining framework to aid manufacturers discover desired materials

Big data at heart of NSF research project

University of Texas at Arlington

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IMAGE: This is Junzhou Huang, UT Arlington assistant professor of Computer Science & Engineering. view more

Credit: UT Arlington

A UT Arlington computer and data scientist has won a $250,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop a scalable data-mining framework that will help manufacturers quickly discover desired materials for building their products.

Junzhou Huang, an assistant professor of Computer Science & Engineering with an expertise in big data and statistical learning, will design scalable algorithms and a computational framework that can search unprecedented volumes of data detailing the complete set of genes present in numerous materials. The innovation may aid manufacturers in building better, longer-lasting cell phones, satellites or aircraft parts, Huang said.

The project is part of the national Materials Genome Initiative, which aims to discover, manufacture and deploy advanced materials faster, cheaper and more efficiently than current technology allows.

"We need to be smarter, more efficient and more effective in discovering new materials to build whatever we want," Huang said. "What's happened in the past is that designers have to simply try what they think might be the best material, but they don't know for sure."

Huang's project is titled " Collaborative Research: Robust Materials Genome Data Mining Framework for Performance Prediction and Design Guidance of Nanoparticle Synthesis." He is teaming with the Colorado School of Mines on the research, which is funded by a total NSF award of $500,000 over three years.

Feiping Nie, a UT Arlington research assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, is a co-principal investigator on the project.

Every material has a genome, but Huang said there have been computational challenges in determining which material is best suited for a particular device. Current systems for searching data needed for an analysis of materials can create a bottleneck for manufacturers because the data is voluminous and complex.

Advanced materials are essential to economic security and human well being, with applications in industries aimed at addressing challenges in clean energy, national security and human welfare, according to the Materials Genome Initiative website. Yet it can take 20 or more years to move a material after initial discovery to the market. The federal government has targeted more than $250 million for the initiative.

Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the College of Engineering, said Huang's research exemplifies the University's research contributions at the national level.

"The impact of Dr. Huang's research could be important to every aspect of manufacturing," Behbehani said. "It takes some of the guesswork out of the equation of deciding on what materials to use in building certain devices."

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About UT Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 38,000 students and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more. Follow #UTAdna on Twitter.

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