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 Novel sensors could enable smarter textiles
17.08.2018 | University of Delaware

nachricht Quantum material is promising 'ion conductor' for research, new technologies
17.08.2018 | Purdue 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: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>