Discovery of complex oxides via automated experiments and data science


Automation is accelerating the discovery of useful materials, yet testing even a small fraction of the billions of possible materials for a desired property is beyond the reach of workflows involving resource-intensive property measurements. Due to relationships among composition, structure, and properties, identifying a complex material with one interesting property makes it the proverbial needle in a haystack that merits testing for additional properties. We accelerate materials synthesis and optical characterization by employing physics-aware data science to identify materials for further investigation. With this approach, one does not need high-throughput methods for measuring every material property of interest since a single ultra-high–throughput workflow can guide material selection for other properties, which is a new paradigm for accelerated materials discovery.The quest to identify materials with tailored properties is increasingly expanding into high-order composition spaces, with a corresponding combinatorial explosion in the number of candidate materials. A key challenge is to discover regions in composition space where materials have novel properties. Traditional predictive models for material properties are not accurate enough to guide the search. Herein, we use high-throughput measurements of optical properties to identify novel regions in three-cation metal oxide composition spaces by identifying compositions whose optical trends cannot be explained by simple phase mixtures. We screen 376,752 distinct compositions from 108 three-cation oxide systems based on the cation elements Mg, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Y, In, Sn, Ce, and Ta. Data models for candidate phase diagrams and three-cation compositions with emergent optical properties guide the discovery of materials with complex phase-dependent properties, as demonstrated by the discovery of a Co-Ta-Sn substitutional alloy oxide with tunable transparency, catalytic activity, and stability in strong acid electrolytes. These results required close coupling of data validation to experiment design to generate a reliable end-to-end high-throughput workflow for accelerating scientific discovery.The optical absorption spectra, fitted phase diagrams, and mixture probabilities have been deposited in Google Cloud Storage (; see SI Appendix for documentation and access instructions).

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences