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CALPHAD Use Continues to Increase in Materials Research

CALPHAD is now over 50 years old, having been officially introduced by Larry Kaufman in 1970. As it passes the half century mark, it continues to mature as a methodology, becoming increasingly trusted as a reliable resource for materials data by the larger materials community. One area where we can see this growth is in its increasing use in materials research.


Increase in CALPHAD Search Results

At Thermo-Calc Software, we track a variety of data related to CALPHAD and the use of our products as a way to monitor industry trends related to materials science. One way we do this is to conduct a Google Scholar search each year to compare instances of CALPHAD to instances of Thermo-Calc, our flagship product. These broad search results give us a high-level overview of whether mentions in academic journals are trending up or down, indicating whether their use in research is expanding. 

As can be seen in Figure 1, the instances of CALPHAD and Thermo-Calc have both been steadily increasing since 1984, the first year that Google Scholar has results for both search terms. The graph also reveals that the results for Thermo-Calc and CALPHAD have been closely aligned throughout this time, demonstrating the intrinsic link between the two. It is important to remember that these particular searches are not scientific or exhaustive. Rather, they are done as a way to monitor trends. We also do a more thorough dive into citations of all of our products later in the year, so stay tuned for that to learn about some of the interesting ways our tools are being used in research. 


Figure 1. Results of Google Scholar searches for Thermo-Calc and CALPHAD from 1984 to 2020. Search results for the two terms have been trending up for over 30 years and have been closely linked throughout their history.

Although there are earlier search results for CALPHAD, 1984 is the first year both terms appear in the results, and coincidentally, the first year a commercial license for Thermo-Calc was sold. In this inaugural year for Thermo-Calc, CALPHAD had 131 results, and Thermo-Calc was cited only once, in the first publication we can find available online.* It helps to keep in mind that this was still 13 years before Thermo-Calc Software launched as a company and only 12 years after CALPHAD was introduced to the world.


Figure 2. Results of Google Scholar searches for Thermo-Calc and CALPHAD from 1984 to 1992. A closer look at these years shows some disparity in growth trends between the two terms, but overall growth for both.

A closer look at the early years shows that both terms struggled to gain traction during the first eight years of data, as shown in Figure 2. During this time, the concept of CALPHAD and using predictive tools such as Thermo-Calc in materials research were still just beginning to be explored. However, growth turned around in 1992 with relatively big increases for both terms, and since that year, search results for both terms have continued to increase steadily without any year-over-year decreases, as shown in Figure 3. More than 20 years after the announcement of CALPHAD, the larger materials science community finally began taking note of its potential, and research publications have been increasing ever since.


Figure 3. Results of Google Scholar searches for Thermo-Calc and CALPHAD from 1992 to 2020. Both terms have seen year-over-year increases in citations throughout this entire period.

A Strong Presence Today

Today, Thermo-Calc and the CALPHAD methodology are well established in the materials science community. Both are used by universities, research facilities, and companies around the world for materials research and engineering. Thermo-Calc Software takes part in many large-scale collaborative research projects, and we partner with universities and private industry to advance materials research. CALPHAD, the organization that was founded by Larry Kaufman in 1973, hosts annual conferences, sponsors scholarships, and has a large presence in the materials science community. The CALPHAD method has been shown to significantly decrease time to market for new materials and provide substantial ROI in the manufacturing industry. The continued increase in search results for both terms indicates that we are just beginning to realize the potential of CALPHAD and tools such as Thermo-Calc in materials research.

Stay tuned for our citations report coming later this year, where we will reveal some of the most interesting research that was published in 2021 using our products.

*We are always interested in finding older papers citing our products. If you know of any papers available before 1984, share them with us at

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