High-throughput materials chemistry
Volpe, Anthony F., Jr. Symyx Technologies, Santa Clara, California.
Weinberg, W. Henry Symyx Technologies, Santa Clara, California.
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The speed and efficiency of research aimed at the discovery and optimization of catalysts, polymers, and other materials have been significantly improved over the last several years through the application of high-throughput research and development techniques. Automated laboratory tools for the rapid or parallel preparation, characterization, and testing of new materials, and specialized software enable the simultaneous design of multiple experiments, automate the hardware, and facilitate the evaluation of the large and numerous data sets generated. The high-throughput approach is especially applicable to problems where there is a large parameter space to be investigated and where the outcome is the result of an unpredictable interdependence among the variables of the parameter set. Homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis fit this description. It is therefore not surprising that research groups are reporting high-throughput approaches to catalyst discovery. Polymer science and electronic materials are other examples. The number of experiments that can be done using state-of-the-art high-throughput techniques is more than an order of magnitude greater than was possible only a few years ago using conventional research techniques. A high-throughput program can yield 50,000 experiments per year, compared to 500 to 1000 experiments using traditional methods.
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