Creating an integrated collaborative environment for materials research

  • Matthew D. Jacobsen
  • James R. Fourman
  • Kevin M. Porter
  • Elizabeth A. Wirrig
  • Mark D. Benedict
  • Bryon J. Foster
  • Charles H. WardEmail author
Case Study


This paper describes the creation of a cyberinfrastructure to facilitate collaborative materials research in a laboratory environment that supports the discovery, development, and sustainment of materials and processing solutions. The infrastructure provides a web-based interface supporting group and project spaces within which researchers can easily organize, share, and collaborate on the results of their experimental and computational efforts. It seamlessly connects researchers with experimental and computational resources for easy generation, collection, and storage of digital data to provide instant access to results with no intermediate transfers. Persistent identifiers and metadata tagging are used to ensure historical research data are discoverable, interpretable, and reusable. The architecture is designed to be modular and agile and is based on federation of both applications and data through a central service bus that brokers all transactions. It is comprised of a number of open-source, commercial, and non-commercial software packages that provide the specific functionality needed to meet the large number of system requirements. This collaborative environment is essential to enabling a large research organization to conduct a research program consistent with the discipline of Integrated Computational Materials Engineering by allowing the seamless connection of experiment to model through pedigreed digital data with complete provenance.


Data management Workflow Collaboration Materials Genome Initiative Integrated Computational Materials Engineering 



The authors are grateful to a number of individuals at the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory for invaluable input on the design and functionality of ICE including Jon Miller, Andy Rosenberger, Zlatomir Apostolotov, Virginia Meeks, Robyn Bradford, Geoffrey Frank, Hilmar Koerner, Eddie Schwalbach, and Joel Murray. Support for this effort was provided by the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Availability of data and materials

Code supporting the central service bus, workflow management, persistent identification, and Data Type Registry are available on request from the authors. These tools will be posted in the near future on a Git-based source code repository.

Authors’ contributions

MDJ was chief architect of ICE. JRF was the primary developer of the CSB, equipment connectivity, and sub-component integration. KMP was responsible as the primary developer of the PID server, DTR, and generator and Metaverse. EAW analyzed individual research requirements and provided design documentation to the development team. MDB provided significant design and functionality input as well as tested key functions of ICE. BJF managed connectivity with experimental equipment. CHW was overall project manager. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s). 2016

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew D. Jacobsen
    • 1
  • James R. Fourman
    • 2
  • Kevin M. Porter
    • 3
  • Elizabeth A. Wirrig
    • 2
  • Mark D. Benedict
    • 1
  • Bryon J. Foster
    • 1
  • Charles H. Ward
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Materials and Manufacturing DirectorateAir Force Research LaboratoryWright-Patterson AFBUSA
  2. 2.RCF Information Systems, Inc.BeavercreekUSA
  3. 3.Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher EducationDaytonUSA

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