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Posted: Jan 10, 2011

Leading molecular materials experts meet in Singapore to seed the next 'big ideas' for tackling energy, sustainability and health issues

(Nanowerk News) Low-cost, highly-efficient solar-energy harnessing devices, multi-functional 'smart' materials, and novel building materials that are lighter, more durable and use less resources to make, are all possible because of advances in molecular-materials studies. The Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) will host some of the top molecular-materials scientists for the inaugural Molecular Materials Meeting (M3). The conference is also the first major scientific event in Singapore that celebrates the UNESCO-IUPAC International Year of Chemistry (IYC) 2011 as chemistry and the multi-disciplinary molecular-materials fields are intertwined.
At the molecular level, materials can behave very differently from their bulk forms. Using this principle, molecular-materials research examines the structure, alignment of molecules and crystallinity of common materials, and alters them to produce new materials that often offer useful and unique properties. Molecular-materials research has been used in photonics, optoelectronics and data storage to create a slew of new technologies from ultra-high-density memory devices to super strong, lightweight composite materials for building cars and airplanes.
"Molecular-materials research is like 'genetic modification' for the physical sciences world", said Prof Andy Hor, IMRE's Executive Director, who also serves as President of the Singapore National Institute of Chemistry (SNIC). "We can harness changes to a material's molecular structure to create new properties, and make old materials work in new ways for us!" An example of such R&D would be IMRE's work on organic electronic materials where scientists have tweaked the molecular structure to produce new light-harvesting materials that are highly efficient at converting solar energy into electricity.
The 68 speakers for the conference will cover research topics that are focused on four main themes; Sustainable Materials, Materials for High-value Manufacturing, Health Technologies and Lifestyle Materials. Plenary speakers for the conference include Prof Allan S Hoffman from the University of Washington, USA who is known for his work in using polymers for medical applications, and Prof Samuel Stupp from Northwestern University, USA whose work in materials for regenerative medicine, cancer therapies and solar energy technology had earned him a listing in the 'Scientific American 50 Leaders Shaping the Future of Technology'.
Chemistry provides a means for researchers to interact with, modify, and create new materials at the atomic and molecular level. The borderless nature of molecular materials research combines chemistry with other burgeoning fields of research. The aim is to produce better materials and advanced devices to solve the difficult problems of energy, sustainability, and health.
The inaugural Molecular Materials Meeting @ Singapore conference will be held on 10 and 11 January 2011 at Level 4, Matrix Building at Biopolis, Singapore.
Source: A*STAR
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