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Scientists are using artificial intelligence to help them design brand-new materials that solve human challenges like never before. A team of researchers has created a new compressible material using artificial intelligence. The material created by materials scientists at TU Delft University in the Netherlands is super-compressible, yet durable. The innovation lies in that it was artificial intelligence that made it possible to complete this research with exactly zero experimental tests in the lab.

Created with artificial intelligence, this metamaterial transforms a brittle material into a sponge-like material. Unlike a sponge, this metamaterial is stiff until a critical force is reached after which it becomes easily compressible.

Miguel Bessa, one of the researchers, told popularmechanics.com: “If you change the geometry of the material, it will not do what you want it to do. It breaks or it bends in a different way, it doesn’t do what you want.” 

“It takes a lot longer to do the tests in the lab. You have to set up the machine, set up the material…and it takes about a day or so,” Bessa said. “The whole process is time-consuming, even if you use a supercomputer.”

While it’s not the first time that AI has helped materials scientists, this leap shows just how powerful artificial intelligence can be in research. The data-driven approach behind AI in materials science points to a future where new designs are created through the use of computer models, where machine learning can use existing data to suggest new approaches.

The only requirements in this model are that there is a sufficient amount of data available on the subject in question and that the data is sufficiently accurate, Bessa said.

Bessa has made his research open-source so that others may experiment in the space. He hopes that this will lead to a real version of the material he discovered.