SCIENCE CHINA Technological Sciences, Volume 62, Issue 4: 521-545(2019) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11431-018-9369-9

High-throughput experiments facilitate materials innovation: A review

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  • ReceivedAug 20, 2018
  • AcceptedOct 8, 2018
  • PublishedFeb 22, 2019


Since the Material Genome Initiative (MGI) was proposed, high-throughput based technology has been widely employed in various fields of materials science. As a theoretical guide, material informatics has been introduced based on machine learning and data mining and high-throughput computation has been employed for large scale search, narrowing down the scope of the experiment trials. High-throughput materials experiments including synthesis, processing, and characterization technologies have become valuable research tools to pin down the prediction experimentally, enabling the discovery-to-deployment of advances materials more efficiently at a fraction of cost. This review aims to summarize the recent advances of high-throughput materials experiments and introduce briefly the development of materials design based on material genome concept. By selecting representative and classic works in the past years, various high-throughput preparation methods are introduced for different types of material gradient libraries, including metallic, inorganic materials, and polymers. Furthermore, high-throughput characterization approaches are comprehensively discussed, including both their advantages and limitations. Specifically, we focus on high-throughput mass spectrometry to analyze its current status and challenges in the application of catalysts screening.

Funded by

the Shanghai Sailing Program(Grant,No.,17YF1405700)

the Shanghai Pujiang Program(Grant,No.,17PJ1402800)

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(Grant,No.,21705106)

the support of the Shanghai Institute of Materials Genome from the Shanghai Municipal Science

and the Technology Commission

as well as the Program for Professor of Special Appointment(Eastern,Scholar)


This work was supported by the Shanghai Sailing Program (Grant No. 17YF1405700), the Shanghai Pujiang Program (Grant No. 17PJ1402800), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 21705106), the support of the Shanghai Institute of Materials Genome from the Shanghai Municipal Science, and the Technology Commission, and the Program for Professor of Special Appointment (Eastern Scholar) at the Shanghai Institution of Higher Learning (Grant No. TP2016023). The authors would like to thank Shenzhen Shineway Hi-Tech Co., Ltd for helping with the literature research process.


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  • Figure 1

    (a) Traditional materials design process; (b) the HTE schema of modern materials (Potyrailo et al. [20]).

  • Figure 2

    (Color online) Schematic illustration of thin-films vapor deposition methods based on PVD. (a) Optical image for co-deposition set-up with three deposition resources (http://www.PVDproducts.com); (b) schematic illustration of four component co-deposition system.

  • Figure 3

    (Color online) (a) Schematic illustration of the WD process for a A-B-C ternary thin-film gradient library (Mao [62]); (b) schematic illustration of the four-step rotating process for making a multi-component thin-film library (Mao [62]); (c) schematic illustration of the principle of laser beam additive manufacturing (Ocylok et al. [76]).

  • Figure 4

    Backscatter electron SEM image of the Ti-Si binary area (bottom) of the diffusion multiple (top) annealed at 1150°C for 2000 h showing the formation of all the Ti silicide (Zhao et al. [81]).

  • Figure 5

    (Color online) (a) Schematic illustration of scanning-probe block copolymer lithography technique; (b)–(f) multimetallic nanoparticles with Au, Ag, Co, Cu, and Ni prepared via this method (top row is color-coded diagram of multimetallic nanoparticles, bottom row are nanoparticles image characterized) (Chen et al. [94]).

  • Figure 6

    (Color online) Schematic illustration of (a) MCR and (b) high-throughput polymerization with multicomponent reaction process (Xue et al. [102]).

  • Figure 7

    Flowchart of the drop-on-demand inkjet delivery system (Chen et al. [147]).

  • Figure 8

    (Color online) Microfluidic-based approaches for generating gradient libraries. (a) Schematic representation of the two-step MPL method (Carbonell et al. [164]); (b) overlaid fluorescence and bright field microscopy images of concentration gradient hydrodynamic traps, and (c) normalized intensities of the droplet array corresponding to the index of Figure 8(b) (Jin et al. [165]).

  • Figure 9

    (Color online) (a) Photo of the combinatorial electrochemistry organic synthesis setup designed by Gütz et al. [173]; (b) cross-section of two kinds of cells that loaded on the stainless steel carousels.

  • Figure 10

    (Color online) EDX measurement of the distribution of Cu over the substrate (Thienhaus et al. [64]).

  • Figure 11

    (Color online) Schematic illustration of color-coded composition libraries characterized by high-throughput XRD combined XRF. (a) Color-coded relative concentration and band gap map of Zn from a transparent conducting oxide library (Mao [116]); (b) color-coded band gap map of a Cd-Zn-Se-Te semiconductor library (Mao [62]); (c) a Cu-Mn-O composition library color-coded map with 16 different compositions (Stoewe et al. [190]).

  • Figure 12

    (Color online) (a) Schematic of synchrotron X-ray diffraction combined with a nanocalorimetry (Gregoire et al. [197, 198]); (b) top: photograph of a novel S-XRD equipment combined XRD/XRF for continuous composition gradient library materials studies; bottom: schematic illustration of the scattering geometry showing main parameters for the materials library and detector (Gregoire et al. [199]).

  • Figure 13

    (Color online) Top: generic illustration of nanoindentation measurements; bottom: EBSD measurements of a sampling of microstructures (Weaver et al. [93]).

  • Figure 14

    (Color online) OM characterizations of (a) gradient thickness SIS thin-films annealed at 135°C for 24 h (the scale bar represents 10 μm) (Luo et al. [211]) and (b) gradient thickness PMMA-PnBA thin-films (Shelton et al. [212]).

  • Figure 15

    (Color online) (a) Schematic illustration of high-throughput parallel blow forming; (b) optical view of samples exhibiting different TPF in the composition library; (c) SEM photograph of highest TPF in the composition library. The scale bar in the left image is 1 mm. (d) Thermoplastic formability maps for Mg-Cu-Y (Ding et al. [121]).

  • Figure 16

    (Color online) Schematic representation of IRT characterization method. (a) Optical image of ec-IRT reactor with a mounted library (Holzwarth et al. [227]); IRT measurements of (b) a vanadium-based catalysts library for the oxidation of SO2 under 450°C conditions (Loskyll et al. [226]); (c) Tdehydrogenation of the Mg-Fe-Cu ternary alloy library at several PH2 partial pressure: 0 mbar and 52 mbar (Domènech-Ferrer et al. [232]).

  • Figure 17

    Schematic illustration of the combinatorial FIT scanning spectroscopy system (Chen et al. [147]).

  • Figure 18

    (Color online) Schematic illustration of novel high-throughput apparatus for the “one-chip method” (Xiang et al. [66]).

  • Figure 19

    Photograph of combinatorial MS system. Right: a xyz-stage positioning unites; left: sampling needle positioned on the mask covering the catalysts library (Urschey et al. [261]).

  • Figure 20

    (a) Schematic of the catalysts screening set-up (Cong et al. [264]); (b) schematic illustration of HTS equipment combined microreactor, sealing system, and QMS. Also shown a xyz-stage fixes the sampling needle for samples taken (Claus et al. [266]). (c) Optical image of the 625-parallel single-bead microreaction chambers. The outer dimensions of the reactor are 70 mm × 70 mm (Zech et al. [270]).

  • Figure 21

    HTS system developed by Eckhard et al. [271]. (a) Photograph of the central part of the combinatorial apparatus; (b) schematic illustration of the sample holder in its reservoir: (A) reservoir fixed on a xyz-stage and moved by stepper motors; (B) 5 ´ 5 sample holder; (C) capillary bundle moving in z-direction; (D) glass lid; (E) Teflon lip ensuring tight sealing conditions; (F) Ar supply to the reservoir and (G) hole in the glass lid used for the capillary bundle and as Ar outlet; (c) flow conditions in the microreactor well (Eckhard et al. [271]).

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