Cutting-Edge Polymer Chemistry Research Can Benefit from ELN Capabilities
As history has shown us, scientific innovation will be what propels us forward and helps us address new challenges in our ever-changing world of technology and progress. Polymer chemistry research is an exciting field of science and there are hopes it will revolutionize the way we treat patients, design new products and generate solar power. Let’s take a look at some of the current research in the polymer pipeline:
Scientists at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in West Bengal coated gold nanoparticles with five different polymers and mixed them with amyloid protein fragments. They found that the polymer-coated nanoparticles were effective at preventing the formation of amyloid fibrils, which are believed to play a role in promoting neurodegenerative diseases. The group hopes to design a biodegradable nanoprobe that can be used to deliver the nanoparticles to the brain.
Researchers from Cargill Inc., BASF and Novozymes are working on developing a sustainable source of acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers, which are important components of paints, plastics, coatings and even diapers. The collaborators are already in the process of scaling up production in a pilot plant.
Researchers participating in a collaboration among three institutions have identified a new polymer that improves the efficiency of solar cells. The polymer permitted movement of electrical charges through the cells that boosted the production of electricity, a novel feat in solar energy.
These polymer chemistry studies are exciting and promise to change the way we live. These scientists are involved in some of the most advanced research occurring in the world. But it begs the question: Are they utilizing the technological advancements of digital lab management solutions? It’s a funny dynamic when labs involved in high-tech, cutting-edge research show up to a meeting with paper lab notebooks. If we’re trying to setup a collaboration with a group that’s on the forefront of polymer chemistry research, we should expect for these researchers to walk into the conference room with iPads, iPhones and Macbooks (yeah, I’m a Mac) all synced and ready deliver impressive digital presentations. Interestingly, that’s often not the case.
There are a number of reasons why labs don’t make the digital transition, but the benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks. Let’s examine how polymer chemistry research can benefit from the capabilities found with an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN):
One common theme I’ve noticed in the field of polymer chemistry is that scientists collaborate across disciplines. The projects aren’t made up only of polymer chemists. Rather, you’ll find an assortment of chemists, biomedical engineers, physicists and more across multiple institutions. An ELN can help promote collaboration for these projects by providing a central digital location in which to deposit data, review findings and follow annotations. Project members aren’t subject to the constraints of time zones or email file size limits when they need to communicate with collaborators, and can easily access the ELN via their web browser.
Digital record-keeping promotes efficiency
Good research requires great record-keeping to avoid wasteful searching for lost data, costly administrative mistakes and inefficiencies in lab procedures. An ELN can help promote efficiency in a lab by providing a secure, permanent digital record of the lab’s operations. A comprehensive search function allows users to search notebook library entries by project, experiment type, date or even chemical structure. Templates and frequently used protocols can be cloned for quick, standard processes to save valuable time.
Secure intellectual property
Polymer chemistry labs are designing exciting tools and products that have the potential to bring about dramatic changes in chemical production processes and medical treatment approaches. It is important for organizations to protect their intellectual property to insure that their return on investment is not forfeited. An ELN can help secure intellectual property by enabling electronic signatures with workflow reminders for users to sign and countersign entries. A witnessed digital record will support a claim of intellectual property in the event that a lab must defend a product or discovery.
If your polymer chemistry lab is on the fence with regard to the implementation of an ELN, visit the Accelrys website to learn more about how Accelrys Notebook can improve collaboration, promote efficiency and secure intellectual property.