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!
Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer
20.10.2017 | Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Metallic nanoparticles will help to determine the percentage of volatile compounds
20.10.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research