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 Glass's off-kilter harmonies
18.01.2017 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center

nachricht Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level
18.01.2017 | Institute for Basic Science

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>