Materials and products  become increasingly more complex. More different materials become available each year, resulting in endless combination possibilities for applications and functionalities. Basic knowledge, based on detailed material characterization, is needed more than ever.

Next to this, statistics reveal that implementation of new, innovative materials in the market takes a very long time (see also "Bridging the gap between basic research and the market"). Studies show a typical time to market of ten to fifteen years for new materials. Combined with the ever increasing demand for faster developments, it is clear that this time to market will have to be decreased.

There are worldwide efforts to speed up, which proves to be a very complex matter. As described in the US Materials Genome Initiative, it is believed that a combination of basic understanding, through characterization and theoretical considerations, and predictive modeling capabilities, validated by experimentation should result in the knowledge required to speed up advanced material development and market introduction.

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Also the European (FP7) project Accelerated Metallurgy aims at the accelerated discovery of alloy formulations using combinatorial principles.

This SIM research theme is in line with these initiatives and strategies. By building up fundamental scientific understanding of materials and combinations of materials, using highly detailed characterization, multiscale modeling and experimental validation, applied research and market introduction of new materials and new material functionalities can be accelerated.

This is a so-called horizontal research theme since the required knowledge will be applicable in a number of domains, industrial roadmaps and value chains. Therefore it cannot be linked to just one industrial consortium and the horizontal program(s) in this theme should support the developments in several vertical programs.

There is also a vertical research program that is closely linked to this theme: M3 (MacroModelMat), focusing on predictive modeling of lightweight materials. This program is part of the research theme "durable and sustainable structural materials".

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