Rutgers researchers use robotics to synthesize polymers
An automated way to create polymers using robotics and custom software was developed by a team of Rutgers-led researchers, according to an article on Rutgers Today.
The software allows a liquid-handling robot to interpret polymer designs made on a computer and carry out the chemical reaction, simplifying polymer synthesization for even those with little experience, according to the article.
Polymers help create advanced materials with special properties such as plastics and fibers, but human researchers previously could only make a few synthetic polymers a day. The article stated the automated method produces approximately 384 different polymers at the same time.
Senior author Adam J. Gormley, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering said prior to this development, it was difficult to develop large amounts of complex materials, according to the article.
“By automating polymer synthesis and using a robotic platform, it is now possible to rapidly create a multitude of unique materials,” Gormley said.
The complex materials made by synthetic polymers can be used for drug development, regenerative medicine, medical devices, robots, sensors, lighting and other technology, according to the article.
Although polymer synthesization is simplified by the new technology, the article said many chemical reactions are sensitive to oxygen. The automated process only carries out reactions that do not require oxygen removal to occur.
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