Quantum analysis could soon be cheap enough for businesses to bring in-house

Simulation could accelerate the qualification of new materials for aerospace as computing power begins to make even quantum mechanics calculations commercially viable, according to US Northwestern University spin-out company Questek Innovations.

Questek atom probe W445
© Flight International

Quantum mechanics material analysis, offered by US national laboratories’ supercomputers, could be cheap enough for businesses to bring in-house within two years. Questek’s expert systems can simulate crystalline structure and materials processing effects and quantum analysis will provide the data for material phase-change simulation where it does not exist as proven models.

Such a complete analysis of a material could provide the data to convince authorities that a new material can be approved for high-performance applications. Questek expects material qualification to become quicker and cheaper because of this increasing computing power. “In future we will be looking at materials that operate at elevated temperatures. We are pushing the performance [of computer design],” says Questek Innovations chief executive Charles Kuehmann. His company is using a combination of commercial software and its own proprietary code with Linux-based computer clusters to create expert-like systems to design alloys for structures. Working mostly with steels, the company has worked on aluminium alloys, metallic glasses, metal matrix composites, ceramics and polymers.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funded Questek from 2002-5 for its accelerated insertion of materials programme. This focused on turbine disc alloys as a proof-of-principle study.


Source: Flight International