Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Combinatorial techniques yield polymer libraries to expedite materials testing and design

02.04.2004


Today’s advanced materials have become extremely complex in chemistry, structure and function, which means scientists need faster, more efficient ways to model and test new designs.


SEM micrographs of fracture surfaces at various impact sites from high-throughput mechanical screening on a composition-gradient library of polyurethane urea



J. Carson Meredith, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has pioneered combinatorial synthesis and high-throughput screening in polymer science – techniques that allow researchers to create and evaluate thousands of polymeric materials in a single experiment. On April 1 at the American Chemical Society’s 227th national meeting in Anaheim, Calif., Meredith will present recent advances in biomedical and electronic polymers.

Meredith began his research in 1998 while working on a new biomaterial at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. At that time, measuring biological and mechanical properties of polymers was an expensive and time-consuming task.


"As we thought about it, we realized the number of experiments we’d have to run was too large," Meredith recalled. "So we took a step back and asked, ’What if we could test 1,000 samples at once?’ "

Inspired by combinatorial methods used in drug discovery, Meredith developed a technology for depositing large collections of polymers on a single microscope slide, using property gradients to create thousands of variations in composition, temperature and thickness.

These polymer libraries dramatically reduce the time and effort required to develop new materials. What’s more, statistical reliability is increased when taking measurements under the same environment.

"In contrast, with a traditional one-sample-per-one-measurement approach, you run the risk of not fully optimizing the material," Meredith said. "Or you could completely miss the material you wanted to find in the first place."

Since joining Georgia Tech in 2000, Meredith has been applying his technologies to develop new materials in the biomedical and electronic arenas.

"Biomedical materials are especially challenging to design because they must be compatible with the human body," Meredith explained. "Yet the physical surface of polymers can affect the attachment and function of biological cells."

Achieving control over cellular interaction with synthetic surfaces will open new doors in biomaterials, such as engineering artificial tissues that are alternatives to organ transplants or deliver drugs only to diseased cells.

Collaborating with Andrés García in Georgia Tech’s Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Meredith has already developed a technique for growing bone cells on polymer libraries and discovered a unique polymer formulation that causes optimal function.

"By changing the physical microstructure of the polymer, you can achieve large changes in how biological cells respond," Meredith explained. "The polymer libraries allow us to pinpoint very accurately the precise composition that works."

Meredith’s research team is also working on cardiovascular biomaterials for artificial blood vessels. "It’s difficult to get cells that line the arteries to grow correctly on a synthetic material," Meredith said. "We have to fool them into believing they’re inside a real artery instead of a plastic tube."

Beyond biomedicine, Meredith is also using combinatorial synthesis and high-throughput screenings to develop new electronic materials.

His research team is working on a technology to manufacture polymeric computer chips. Because polymers are flexible, they offer superior mechanical properties for electronic components in contrast to traditional silicon, which is hard and brittle.

Yet at nanoscale thicknesses, getting these thin films to adhere to each other has been a major challenge. Using the polymer libraries, the researchers have discovered that the ability of an insulator film to coat a semiconducting polymer is a strong function of thickness. "Now we’re exploring what thickness will provide the optimal material," Meredith said.

Critics may deem combinatorial techniques a shotgun approach, but it’s hardly a random process, said Meredith, who uses predictive models and previous data to help select material combinations to screen.

And discovering a winning polymer is only part of the equation. It’s critical to mine all the data and then explain scientifically why some materials work and others don’t, he noted.

"We’ve been surprised by how much the libraries tell us, especially in case of biomaterials," Meredith said. "This knowledge creation is just as important as the materials development side."


Technical Contact:
Carson Meredith, 404-385-2151 or carson.meredith@chbe.gatech.edu

Jane Sanders | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Watching atoms move in hybrid perovskite crystals reveals clues to improving solar cells
22.11.2017 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Fine felted nanotubes: CAU research team develops new composite material made of carbon nanotubes
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>