Toyota Research Institute said the challenge is aimed at accelerating the transition to cleaner energy solutions.

LOS ALTOS, Calif., and CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—A multi-year, multimillion-dollar challenge recently announced by Toyota Research Institute (TRI) will aim to close the gap between recent advances in artificial intelligence- (AI) driven prediction of new advanced materials and finding the actual “recipe” needed to make these hypothetical materials in the real world.

According to a release from TRI, it is encouraging that researchers can use AI and simulation to find millions of novel materials at unprecedented rates. However, a bottleneck occurs when trying to create these materials in the laboratory. Developing the recipe to create even a single new material in the lab—the act of synthesis—can take years.

“Accelerating the synthesis of computer-predicted materials could be a game changer in the development of advanced technologies such as EV batteries,” said TRI Senior Director of Energy and Materials Brian Storey, in the release. “That’s why TRI is trying something new. We are inviting the best researchers in this field to bring fresh thinking to help close the gap between the computer and the lab.”

“When we started TRI in 2016, one of our founding principles was that we would enthusiastically pursue collaboration with others and avoid the ‘not invented here’ syndrome,” said Toyota Motor Corporation Chief Scientist and TRI CEO Gill Pratt, Ph.D., in the release. ”Our intention is to shave years off the new materials discovery process by creating a collaborative research challenge amongst academics and research partners around the world.”

The Synthesis Advanced Research Challenge will provide funding for four of the most promising ideas submitted for using artificial intelligence and simulation to synthesize new materials for the next generation of EVs and other emerging technology applications. Beyond the automotive industry, advancements in materials synthesis have the potential to catalyze broader scientific discoveries and technological innovations, the release said.

According to TRI, submissions should ideally combine innovative approaches leveraging recent methodological advances with a compelling plan for collaboration. The application is open to university professors and national laboratory scientists, and early-career scientists are especially encouraged to apply.

Learn more about this challenge that material scientists are trying to solve on TRI’s Medium blog. To apply, please review the request for proposals. The submission deadline is June 1, 2024.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) said it conducts research to amplify human ability, focusing on making our lives safer and more sustainable. Led by Gill Pratt, TRI’s team of researchers develops technologies to advance energy and materials, human-centered artificial intelligence, human interactive driving, and robotics. Established in 2016, TRI has offices in Los Altos, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.