The evolution of Materials Acceleration Platforms: toward the laboratory of the future with AMANDA
The development of complex functional materials poses a multi-objective optimization problem in a large multi-dimensional parameter space. Solving it requires reproducible, user-independent laboratory work and intelligent preselection of experiments. However, experimental materials science is a field where manual routines are still predominant, although other domains like pharmacy or chemistry have long used robotics and automation. As the number of publications on Materials Acceleration Platforms (MAPs) increases steadily, we review selected systems and fit them into the stages of a general material development process to examine the evolution of MAPs. Subsequently, we present our approach to laboratory automation in materials science. We introduce AMANDA (Autonomous Materials and Device Application Platform - www.amanda-platform.com), a generic platform for distributed materials research comprising a self-developed software backbone and several MAPs. One of them, LineOne (L1), is specifically designed to produce and characterize solution-processed thin-film devices like organic solar cells (OSC). It is designed to perform precise closed-loop screenings of up to 272 device variations per day yet allows further upscaling. Each individual solar cell is fully characterized, and all process steps are comprehensively documented. We want to demonstrate the capabilities of AMANDA L1 with OSCs based on PM6:Y6 with 13.7% efficiency when processed in air. Further, we discuss challenges and opportunities of highly automated research platforms and elaborate on the future integration of additional techniques, methods and algorithms in order to advance to fully autonomous self-optimizing systems—a paradigm shift in functional materials development leading to the laboratory of the future.