Microsoft and PNNL Collaboration: AI Identified New Battery Material Microsoft and PNNL Collaboration: AI Identified New Battery Material

By: Alex Freidmen

Microsoft and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (“PNNL”) have joined forces in a groundbreaking collaboration to develop batteries with up to 70% less lithium than current models.

Revolutionizing Scientific Discovery Through AI

The partnership showcases the remarkable potential of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) combined with next-generation cloud computing to revolutionize the pace of scientific discovery, particularly in fields critical for addressing global energy and sustainability challenges.

Microsoft and PNNL leveraged AI, specifically Microsoft’s Azure Quantum Elements, to identify new battery materials. The AI algorithms sifted through an astounding 32 million candidates, which were then scrutinized for stability, reactivity, and potential to conduct energy. These rigorous filters reduced the pool to about 500,000 candidates, and high-performance computing (HPC) was then employed for even greater accuracy, further distilling the selection. HPC verified the stability and practicality of the materials.

This pioneering use of AI and HPC drastically accelerated the material discovery process, resulting in the identification of 23 promising candidates in just 80 hours. The revealed material, which utilizes both lithium and sodium, has the potential to reduce lithium content by up to 70%, addressing concerns related to the scarcity and environmental impact of lithium-ion batteries.

The AI-HPC combination not only expedited the computation time, but cloud-based AI tools also provided accessibility and flexibility, eliminating the constraints of shared supercomputers.

Microsoft’s Quantum Computing Efforts

Microsoft, a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company, is vigorously pursuing advancements in quantum computing. Its Azure Quantum offers a cloud service that enables users to develop and refine quantum algorithms, with the ultimate goal of achieving scalability toward a general-purpose quantum computer. The applications are designed to empower quantum chemists and scientists in their research efforts.

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The company is also focused on developing reliable qubits that can remain error-free for longer periods, enabling the execution of more complex applications. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2024 revenues is indicative of 14.3% growth from fiscal 2023, and the consensus estimate for fiscal 2024 earnings reflects a 13.5% increase from the previous year.

Rising Competition in Quantum Computing

Notably, other tech giants such as NVIDIA, Amazon, and IBM are also making substantial inroads into the quantum computing space, intensifying the competition. NVIDIA has launched the first graphic processing unit-accelerated quantum computing program and is collaborating with various entities to enhance data analytics using hybrid quantum computing.

Amazon is venturing into quantum computing through Amazon Web Services, offering a fully managed quantum computing service known as Amazon Braket. IBM’s Quantum Network fosters partnerships and provides exclusive access to meetings and channels for collaborative quantum research and development.