Online / 6 & 7 February 2021


Using ElabFTW for materials science

Keeping work organized in experimental materials science research is a nightmare. Projects involve data collected with dozens of different instruments on dozens of different samples that are related to eachother in a hierarchical fashion. For each new project, researchers struggle with questions like: how should I organize my files and data? How should I name my samples? How should I keep track of the links between data and samples? Since no standard answer to these questions has been formulated, labs and individuals just improvise. The result is that most data and samples become utterly useless once the person who conducted the research leaves; no one else can find their way through the ad-hoc naming conventions and various excel sheets. This eventually translates into a lot of wasted and repeated efforts.

The biological sciences have long ago figured out solutions to these problems, and they are lab information systems (LIMS) and digital lab notebooks. In this talk I will present how I organize my research workflow in eLabFTW, a free and open source lab notebook with some LIMS capabilities. The tool was originally developed with molecular biologists in mind, but most of the tooling is useful for materials scientists. I will also talk about how I could leverage the python API for tailoring the tool to my needs, for example for printing QR-code stickers for database items.


Photo of Niels Cautaerts Niels Cautaerts