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Better Batteries through Simulation

With all the HPC conference I attend, the prospect of a better battery for my laptop and cameras is something I would really appreciate. Now, MIT researchers are using TACC’s Ranger supercomputer to investigate new material for high-density energy storage.

Most of our world is concerned with the organic chemistry of sustaining our lives. But most of the Earth – in fact most of the universe – is made up of inorganic materials formed by geological or cosmological processes. Despite their variety, all inorganic materials are composed of a not-so-terribly-large number of inorganic compounds: 50,000 to 200,000 depending on how you count. People have been studying these materials for millennium, but less than one percent of these have had their properties explored. Gerbrand Ceder, professor of materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), aims to change that. You don’t want to calculate the elastic quotient of 50,000 materials in your head, but it’s not impossible for the world’s most powerful supercomputers, Ceder says. He estimates that the Ranger supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center could calculate a given property for all known compounds in 80 hours, and Ranger is just one of a pantheon of powerful systems in the U.S.

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