Combinatorial Science

Combinatorial science involves the generation and testing of large arrays of compounds or materials using highly automated, parallel processes. Originally developed within the pharmaceutical industry to reduce the time and cost for drug development, the combinatorial approach has more recently been applied to materials development such as catalysts, polymers, electronic materials, sensing materials and coatings.

The Combinatorial Materials Research Laboratory (CMRL) at NDSU is one of the most well-equipped academic laboratories in the world for conducting polymer and surface coating research using a combinatorial approach. The CMRL at NDSU houses more than $11,000,000 in automated, high-throughput instrumentation built in-house by engineering staff at NDSU or purchased from vendors such as Symyx® Technologies, Tecan and Chemspeed. The combinatorial tools available within the CMRL include:

  • Systems for the parallel synthesis and characterization of polymers,
  • Preparation of formulated polymeric compositions, and
  • Testing of key material properties such as viscosity, thermomechanical properties, surface properties, adhesion, hardness, barrier properties, corrosion protection, color stability and gloss.

In addition to combinatorial equipment, the CMRL possesses the full suite of software available from Symyx Technologies to enable fast, efficient design of experiments, programming of robotic instrumentation and data capturing methods.

Research personnel within the CRML consist of dedicated staff scientists and research technicians from varied disciplines including polymer chemistry, analytical chemistry, mechanical engineering and microbiology. In addition to CMRL research staff, NDSU faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students participate in research projects supported by the CMRL.

The CMRL at NDSU is involved in research projects sponsored by both the U.S. government and industry. The CMRL has conducted ongoing research in the areas of marine coatings, antimicrobial coatings, bioactive polymers and coatings, coatings for corrosion protection, and hybrid organic-inorganic coatings. In the relatively short time that the CMRL has been in existence, the extensive results obtained from research projects has resulted in many patents and publications.

In addition to sponsored research programs, the facilities, equipment and technical expertise within the CMRL are available to interested parties as a research service. Those interested in initiating a research project or research service within the CMRL should contact CMRL Director Dr. Bret Chisholm at (701-231-5328).