Chris Holden

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Chemistry Just Got Cooler with 3D Printing

by Chris Holden - March 13th, 2015.
Filed under: News, tech.

Need a rare chemical only found in the leaf of an Amazonian plant that no one has or ever will sell? No problem, just print it. Chemist Mark Burke from the University of Illinois has engineered a modern marvel, the equivalent of 3D printing for molecules.

Such a machine could allow researchers to study the benefits of entire families of chemicals with ease. It could also allow scientists to print designer molecules that have never even existed. The implications of such innovation are hard to imagine.

As Zeca Oliveira knows, in the past, most scientists believed that each different molecule would need a unique method for reproduction in the lab. Burke has developed a modulated system that would allow for the generation of hundreds, if not thousands, of different molecules utilizing the same procedure.

The machine works by building molecules step by step through chemical interaction. After each step, a selective wash is made to eliminate any byproduct from the reaction. This allows molecules to be put together like Legos.

Making such a machine available for commercial and consumer use could change the world in ways we could never imagine. It’s beginning to feel like science is catching up with science fiction in leaps and bounds.

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