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QuesTek Selected for DARPA SIMPLEX Award to Design High-Performance Thermoelectric Materials and Machine Learning Systems Design Tools

September 22, 2015

EVANSTON, IL, September, 22, 2015 – QuesTek Innovations LLC has been awarded a three year, $3.25 Million contract under DARPA’s Simplifying Complexity in Scientific Discovery (SIMPLEX) program. The goal of SIMPLEX is to develop tools for scientific data analysis to facilitate big hypothesis generation and accelerate scientific discovery.

In the project, QuesTek will apply these ideas to materials science, leveraging its extensive and proven experience in the design of alloy systems, to develop powerful new machine learning materials discovery tools and apply them to design high-performance thermoelectric materials.

QuesTek will be leading a team of top experts in the fields of data analysis, high-throughput experiments, density functional theory and thermoelectrics from Northwestern University, the University of Utah, the Ohio State University and Citrine Informatics.

Thermoelectrics are materials that exhibit a strong coupling between electrical and thermal responses, producing an electric potential in the presence of a temperature gradient and vice versa. Current use of these materials is limited to niche refrigeration/cooling applications and small electric generators due to the low efficiency (ZT) of the energy conversion.

Based on current estimates that 59% of all primary energy produced in the United States is wasted, recovery of even 1% of this from waste heat by a novel high-ZT thermoelectric material would provide nine times the energy currently produced by photovoltaics. DARPA SIMPLEX program is a unique opportunity for QuesTek to apply its Materials by Design® methodology to develop novel, multi-scale thermoelectric materials using Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) technologies.

“This is a great opportunity to integrate the growing field of materials informatics into our Materials by Design® approach,” said Dr. Greg Olson, QuesTek’s Chief Science Officer and company co-founder. “We have already demonstrated our ability to achieve the goals set by the Materials Genome Initiative in our design of Ferrium® M54® and S53® structural steels that went from clean sheet design, through commercial licensing, flight qualification and actual flight as landing gear on an aircraft in less than 8 years.”

For more information, please contact Dr. James Saal, QuesTek SIMPLEX Program Manager, at 847-425-8233.


QuesTek Innovations LLC (www.questek.com) is a global leader in Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) and uses its proprietary Materials by Design® methodology to rapidly develop new materials that reduce capital, processing, operating or maintenance costs, enhance competitiveness, or improve environmental protection. QuesTek has demonstrated success in designing and developing novel steel for safety critical applications, and meeting the goals of the Materials Genome Initiative. QuesTek has 14 US patents awarded or pending, and has worked on numerous alloy systems (including Al, Ti, Cu, Ni, Co, Mo, W, Nb and Ta).

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