Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Focus on functional materials development shortchanges opportunities for discovery

12.09.2006
The current research focus on "functional polymers" can overlook the opportunity for important discoveries that can arise from basic research on how things work, said a distinguished chemist.

James McGrath, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Tech, will deliver his remarks at the symposium honoring Herman Mark, an early polymer scientist, during the 232nd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on September 10-14 in San Francisco.

Asked to talk about how things have changed, McGrath said, "We use to do more fundamental studies – studies of reaction mechanisms, reaction kinetics, new molecule synthesis, and molecular structure. We might hope for an application but would not be held to a consequence. Now we have to focus on functional polymers and even multi-functional materials."

Such an admonition that research be tied to an application means it is harder to find funding for the fundamental studies. "You don't have failures when doing basic research because even so-called failures increase knowledge. That kind of work led to better understandings that resulted in important discoveries, such as of novel monomers and polymerization techniques.

McGrath, who has published more than 400 papers and holds patents for new fuel cell membranes and many important structural polymers, said "Functional polymers research doesn't allow for failure. But if you don't do the basic research, you run out of seed corn."

McGrath said the attitude that focus should be applications is not limited to polymers research. "There is pressure in many fields to skip over basic research for applications. For example, in pharmaceutical chemistry, there is pressure to find a treatment for everything. But not understanding how things work isn't healthy."

He will also present at the ACS meeting on his group's breakthrough on a chlorine-resistant reverse osmosis membrane. The group's research also includes polymeric ionic soft transducers for sensors and actuators, separations of ethanol and water, and the possibility of biocompatible membranes.

Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries
22.03.2017 | Yale University

nachricht Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold
22.03.2017 | 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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Inactivate vaccines faster and more effectively using electron beams

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>