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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VIII. Earth Earns: An Open Participatory Earthropocene to Astropocene CoCreative Future

1. Mind Over Matter and Energy: Quantum, Atomic, Chemical, Astronomic Realms

Chen, Zian, et al. Topics in the Mathematical Design of Materials. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. May, 2021. An introduction to a special issue by authors posted Hong Kong, Slovenia, Bristol, UK, Bologna, Italy, Bilbao, Spain and Bucharest, Romania which provides a wide survey of techniques and advances. Some titles are Chromonic Liquid Crystals, Origami and Materials Science (abstract below), and The Theory of Composites.

We present a perspective on several current research directions relevant to the mathematical design of new materials. We discuss: (i) design problems for phase-transforming and shape-morphing materials, (ii) epitaxy as an approach of central importance in the design of advanced semiconductor materials, (iii) selected design problems in soft matter, (iv) mathematical problems in magnetic materials, (v) some open problems in liquid crystals and soft materials and (vi) mathematical problems on liquid crystal colloids. The presentation combines topics from soft and hard condensed matter, with specific focus on those design themes where mathematical approaches could possibly lead to exciting progress. (Abstract)

Origami, the ancient art of folding thin sheets, has practical value in diverse fields: architectural design, therapeutics, deployable space structures, medical stents, antenna design and robotics. Here we show how the rules for constructing origami have direct analogues to the analysis and microstructure of materials. At atomistic level, the structure of crystals, nanostructures, viruses and quasi-crystals all link to simplified origami methods. Underlying these linkages are basic physical scaling laws, the role of isometries, and the role of group theory.

Cheng, Ji, et al. Stability of Ar(H2)2 to 358 GPa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114/3596, 2017. An international team of geophysicists with shared postings at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Carneige Institution of Washington progress toward the laboratory preparation of metallic Hydrogen. This extreme form was conjectured to only be present in the compressed cores of gas giant planets. (GPa stands for gigaPascals, after Blaise, whence 1 GPa is ~ 145,000 pounds per square inch.) Into the 21st century, who are we peoples that whose instrumental, collaborative prowess can advance nature’s deepest material realms?

Pressure-induced metallization of solid hydrogen is a problem of certain prominence in high-pressure physics. However, it is extremely challenging to be achieved experimentally. It was proposed that “chemical precompression” (introducing impurity atoms or molecules into hydrogen) may facilitate metallization under pressure. In this paper, we selected Ar(H2)2 as a model system and explored the intermolecular interactions of H2 molecules and the metallization of hydrogen in the presence of a weakly bound impurity (Ar). Combining our experimental data and theoretical calculations, we found that Ar does not facilitate the molecular dissociation and bandgap closure of H2, moreover it works in the opposite direction. Our work provides a solid basis for future searches of hydrogen-rich materials which facilitate metallization of hydrogen. (Significance)

Chiesa, Luisa. Guest Editorial.. IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity. 34/2, 2024. A Tufts University mechanical engineering professor introduces this progress report for the latest achievements of this American fusion energy endeavor. See also the www.iter.org website all about the major European project.

This Special Issue of the IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity is a collection of six papers focusing on the SPARC Toroidal Field Model Coil Program (TFMC), a collaboration between the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center, and Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a company with the objective of developing fusion as an energy source. This three-year effort between 2018 and 2021 had the goal of designing, building, and testing a first-in-class, superconducting toroidal field coil made with the high-temperature Rare Earth Barium Copper Oxide. The TFMC was a prototype now being integrated into the toroidal field magnet of the SPARC tokamak, a net-energy magnetic fusion device currently under construction.

ITER ("The Way" in Latin) is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today. In southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world's largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars.

Cole-Turner, Ronald, ed. Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011. The editor is a professor of theology and ethics at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. A spate of recent books of this genre alternatively exalt instant powers to remake human and nature, a near singularity but sans checks or balances, or look aghast at an often misconceived Pandora’s box of genetic or social “engineering.” This volume presents a rare admission that a promised, recreated future is unavoidably opening, but we ought to only proceed with utmost careful, wise, spiritual guidance. As the contents and much text viewable on Amazon.com attest, the essays are a thoughtful attempt to engage and give meaningful depth to this new creation quite bursting upon us. Of note are lead chapters: “Contextualizing a Christian Perspective on Transcendence and Human Enhancement: Francis Bacon, N. F. Fedorov, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin” by Michael S. Burdett, and “Transformation and the End of Enhancement: Insights from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin” by David Grumett. Another humane contribution is Celia Deane-Drummond’s “Taking Leave of the Animal? The Theological and Ethical Implications of Transhuman Projects.”

Collins, Sean, et al. Materials Design by Evolutionary Optimization of Functional Groups in Metal-Organic Frameworks. Science Advances. Online November, 2016. University of Ottawa, Center for Catalysis Innovation researchers describe endeavors within the field of “computational materials science” (search Ceder) to “optimize” ligand compounds (molecules bonded to a metal atom) by way of machine learning and genetic algorithms. See also The Thermodynamic Scale of Inorganic Crystalline Metastability by Wenhao Sun, et al in this journal, for another advance.

A genetic algorithm that efficiently optimizes a desired physical or functional property in metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) by evolving the functional groups within the pores has been developed. The approach has been used to optimize the CO2 uptake capacity of 141 experimentally characterized MOFs under conditions relevant for postcombustion CO2 capture. A total search space of 1.65 trillion structures was screened, and 1035 derivatives of 23 different parent MOFs were identified as having exceptional CO2 uptakes of >3.0 mmol/g. The structures of the high-performing MOFs are provided as potential targets for synthesis. (Collins Abstract)

The space of metastable materials offers promising new design opportunities for next-generation technological materials, such as complex oxides, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, steels, and beyond. We report a large-scale data-mining study of the Materials Project, a high-throughput database of density functional theory–calculated energetics of Inorganic Crystal Structure Database Structures, to explicitly quantify the thermodynamic scale of metastability for 29,902 observed inorganic crystalline phases. We reveal the influence of chemistry and composition on the accessible thermodynamic range of crystalline metastability for polymorphic and phase-separating compounds, yielding new physical insights that can guide the design of novel metastable materials. (Sun Abstract)

Copie, O., et al. Structure and Magnetism of Epitaxial PrVO3 Films. Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter. 25/49, 2013. Université de Caen Basse Normandie and CNRS-Ecole Centrale Paris researchers prepare, study and avail this especially versatile class of materials. We select this contribution out of thousands each month as an example of the worldwide project to discern and recreate the chemical substance of nature, for which we seem to have a limitless capacity. (The paper intrigued because in 1962 I grew one of the first GaAs epitaxial single crystal films in a laboratory in New York City.) And what a fantastic scenario on the face of it as some kind of universe that stochastically evolves sentient beings who are then able to so quantify its materiality as to begin a new, better, intentionally ordered “second genesis.”

Epitaxial means growing a crystal layer of one mineral on the crystal base of another mineral in such a manner that its crystalline orientation is the same as that of the substrate. Pr is the rare earth element Praseodymium.

The interplay between charge, spin, orbital and lattice degrees of freedom in transition metal oxides has motivated extensive research aiming to understand the coupling phenomena in these multifunctional materials. Among them, rare earth vanadates are Mott insulators characterized by spin and orbital orderings strongly influenced by lattice distortions. Using epitaxial strain as a means to tailor the unit cell deformation, we report here on the first thin films of PrVO3 grown on (001)-oriented SrTiO3 substrate by pulsed laser deposition. An extensive structural characterization of the PrVO3 films, combining x-ray diffraction and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy studies, reveals the presence of oriented domains and a unit cell deformation tailored by the growth conditions. We have also investigated the physical properties of the PrVO3 films. We show that, while PrVO3 exhibits an insulating character, magnetic measurements indicate low-temperature hard-ferromagnetic behavior below 80 K. We discuss these properties in view of the thin-film structure. (Abstract)

Crocker, John. Directed Self-Assembly, Statistical Mechanics and Beyond. www.physics.umass.edu/seminars. The web page for a Condensed Matter Seminar at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, October 8, 2015, by the University of Pennsylvania biomolecular engineer. As the Abstract cites, the talk was first about how DNA dynamics can exemplify complex scalar structures. These nonlinear qualities also distinguish soft matter substances, all of which are found to exhibit, by way of a landscape model, a fractal self-similarity. In conclusion it was noted that financial markets, far from molecular domains, yet hold to the same form and process. So again from another angle, an independent universality from chemicals to economies is well quantified.

DNA is a versatile tool for directing the equilibrium self-assembly of nanoscopic and microscopic objects. The interactions between microspheres due to the hybridization of DNA strands grafted to their surface have been measured and can be modeled in detail, using well-known polymer physics and DNA thermodynamics. We use these interactions to generate a large and expandable library of DNA-labeled colloidal building blocks by utilizing colloidal crystal templates and reprogrammable DNA interactions. These clusters in turn possess directional interactions that can be used for hierarchical self-assembly of still more complex ordered structures. The second half of the talk will discuss the physical origin of the unusual rheological properties of many non-equilibrium complex fluids, collectively termed soft-glassy materials (SGMs) such as soap foams, mayonnaise, toothpaste and living cells. When activated by internal energy sources, SGMs display dynamic shear moduli that have an unusual power-law frequency dependence, super-diffusive particle motion, and large cooperative particle rearrangements, or avalanches. We hypothesized that these SGM phenomena may emerge simply from properties of their high-dimensional energy landscape function. Surprisingly, we find that the steepest-descent configuration space path is a self-similar fractal curve, resembling a river cascading down a tortuous mountain canyon. The unusual SGM phenomena in our model stem directly from these paths' fractal dimension and energy function, suggesting that such physics may emerge generically in non-equilibrium systems having fractal energy landscapes. (Abstract)

Cronin, Leroy, et al. Catalyst: The Metaphysics of Chemical Reactivity. Chem. 4/8, 2018. In this new Cell Press journal, University of Glasgow chemists broach philosophical reflections about a “meta-chemical” reality which seems to have its own lawful propensities. Our material human inquiries and interactions can now be enhanced by neural net artificial intelligence learning methods which bode well for breakthrough achievements going forward.

The challenge for the chemist is not the use of artificial intelligence but the intelligent use of algorithms and automation for novel discoveries rather than just new molecules that are predictable. This development is crucial if chemical technologies are to shake the perceived failure of the combinatorial synthesis revolution. Ultimately, the development of such tools should build on the creativity of the chemist and allow discovers and developments that would not have been possible in isolation. With such approaches, the chemist will be able to boldly go into the unknown and active seek chemical novelty. (1761)

Crow, James Mitchell. The Anything Factory. New Scientist. August 19, 2017. A report about emerging technical abilities via sophisticated instrumentation and graphic computations which bode for the novel creation of atomic, chemical and all manner of inorganic and biological materials forms. Exemplary highlights are the work of Sander Otte in Quantum Nanoscience at the Technical University of Delft, and Stefano Curtarolo in Material Genomics at Duke University (search each).

Damasceno, Pablo, et al. Predictive Self-Assembly of Polyhedra into Complex Structrues. Science. 337/453, 2012. As illustrated by 2010s organic crystallography displayed in colorful graphics, University of Michigan materials scientists in coauthor Sharon Glotzer’ Lab discover an array of inherent natural structurations. These efforts proceed, it is said, as part of their project to begin a new intentional creation.

Predicting structure from the attributes of a material’s building blocks remains a challenge and central goal for materials science. Isolating the role of building block shape for self-assembly provides insight into the ordering of molecules and the crystallization of colloids, nanoparticles, proteins, and viruses. We investigated 145 convex polyhedra whose assembly arises solely from their anisotropic shape. Our results demonstrate a remarkably high propensity for thermodynamic self-assembly and structural diversity. We show that from simple measures of particle shape and local order in the fluid, the assembly of a given shape into a liquid crystal, plastic crystal, or crystal can be predicted. (Abstract)

Our results push the envelope of entropic crystallization and the assembly behavior of hard particle fluids and provide an important step toward a predictive science of nanoparticle and colloidal assembly, which will be necessary to guide experiments with families of polyhedrally shaped particles that are now becoming available. (456)

Das, Anirban, et al. Dark Matter Induced Power in Quantum Devices. arXiv:2210.09313. We cite this paper by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory physicists, among much similar work each day to once record the apparent limitless abilities of our Earthuman ecosmic descriptive project. At what point might we peoples ask whatever is our participant role and purpose of this micro-ecosmic sdescriptive self quantification.

We present single quasiparticle devices as new dark matter (DM) detectors. The threshold of these devices is set by the cooper pair binding energy, which is so low that they can detect DM as light as about an MeV incoming from the Galactic halo.. Using power measurements with these devices, we set new constraints on the DM scattering cross section for DM masses from about 1 MeV to 10 GeV. We note future directions to improve halo DM and a thermalized DM population in the Earth using power deposition in quantum devices. (Excerpt)

De Pablo, Juan, et al. New Frontiers for the Materials Genome Initiative. Npj Computational Materials. 5/41, 2019. In this new Nature journal, in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, twenty five researchers from universities and institutes across the USA preview of this worldwide endeavor which augurs to begin a new atomic and bio-chemical creation. A synthesis of deep neural net learning, algorithmic computations, and the latest stereochemical imaging has led to a steady flow of beneficial nanomaterials. But of most interest for a natural genesis is its metaphoric citation as an essential genetic project. Might coinage like atomics, atom-informatics, matteromics and more be rightly availed? See also Genetic Algorithms for Computational Materials Discovery Accelerated by Machine Learning by Paul Jennings, et al in this same issue (5/46), Materials Informatics by Krishna Rajan (a coauthor) in Annual Review of Materials Research (45/153, 2015), and Machine Learning in Materials Informatics by Rampi Ramprasad, et al in this journal (2017).

The Materials Genome Initiative (www.mgi.gov) advanced a new paradigm for accelerated materials discovery, design and development, by way of complementary efforts in theory, computation, and experiment. In May 2017, the National Science Foundation sponsored the workshop “Advancing and Accelerating Materials Innovation Through the Synergistic Interaction among Computation, Experiment, and Theory: Opening New Frontiers” to review accomplishments that emerged from investments in science and infrastructure. We cite key findings from the workshop and novel perspectives to guide future materials research and its translation into societal advantage. (Abstract)

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