Orbital Materials: Revolutionizing Materials Discovery With AI


While the world fixates on text-, image- and movie-generating AI, a startup headed by a former DeepMind senior researcher is developing GenAI tech to support the manufacturing of new physical materials. Orbital Materials, founded by Jonathan Godwin, is creating an AI-powered platform that can be used to discover materials ranging from batteries to carbon dioxide-capturing cells.

Key Takeaway

Orbital Materials, led by a former DeepMind senior researcher, is leveraging AI to revolutionize materials discovery, potentially enabling the design and commercialization of new advanced materials at unprecedented speed.

The Inspiration Behind Orbital Materials

Jonathan Godwin, inspired by the techniques underpinning AI systems like AlphaFold, founded Orbital Materials to revolutionize the materials sciences. Traditional methods of discovering new materials have long relied on time-consuming trial and error processes in the lab, often resulting in years of experimentation before success is achieved. Godwin felt that a new type of organization — one with AI experts as well as materials-scientists — was needed to bring materials out of the computer into the real world.

The Role of AI in Materials Discovery

Achieving certain properties in new materials requires identifying the corresponding physical and chemical structures, as well as figuring out the processes to reliably create the structures. AI can save time and money by leaning on computations to map out which properties and processes might yield which types of materials. Orbital Materials’ proprietary AI model for materials science, called Linus, serves as the backbone of the startup’s lab in New Jersey, where it’s driving materials and chemical research and development.

Bringing AI-Designed Materials to Life

Scientists using Linus enter natural language instructions, and the system generates a 3D molecular structure that meets the criteria. Orbital Materials plans to bring materials to the proof of concept or pilot demonstration phase and then seek outside manufacturers as partners. The startup recently raised $16 million in a Series A round led by Radical Ventures with participation from Toyota Ventures, bringing the total raised to ~$21 million. This new capital will be put toward expanding Orbital’s data science and wet lab teams.

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