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 Triboelectric nanogenerators boost mass spectrometry performance
28.02.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Nano 'sandwich' offers unique properties
28.02.2017 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology offers fast peptide synthesis

28.02.2017 | Life Sciences

WSU research advances energy savings for oil, gas industries

28.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Who can find the fish that makes the best sound?

28.02.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>