Grace Gu is using artificial intelligence to find ways to make better materials. Gu envisions materials that can be used for lighter and stronger body armors, 3D-printed and customizable medical implants, and tunable solar cell materials that push the boundaries of the renewable energy technology.
Gu’s work is inspired by natural materials such as seashells and bamboo, in which the structure of the base constituents results in strength and other desirable properties. Her team at UC Berkeley uses machine learning algorithms to discover new composite structures based on nature’s examples. This approach allows her to design materials that are superstrong and yet lightweight. These designs are then 3D-printed and tested to validate the algorithm, to make sure that the hypothetical materials work in the real world.
Thus far, Gu’s research has led to material designs with dramatically enhanced mechanical properties. And as the team continues its research, Gu hopes that bigger breakthroughs are around the corner.