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!
New design improves performance of flexible wearable electronics
23.06.2017 | North Carolina State University
Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics
22.06.2017 | American Chemical Society
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
26.06.2017 | Life Sciences
26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.06.2017 | Information Technology