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The Future Science Forum at a Glance: Redesigning the World through Micro-Level Approaches
Source:Original    Writer:admin    Released on:2017-07-05    

In today’s world, as the new round of technological and industrial revolutions gather momentum, innovation-oriented regions and cities are rising rapidly, remodeling and reshaping the configuration of global competition. Pujiang Innovation Forum 2017, jointly organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Municipal Government of Shanghai, is set to be held on 23 and 24 September in Shanghai.Under the theme“Global Science and Technology Innovation Hubs: Patterns and Prospects”, the Forum will provide insights into the evolvement of global science and technology innovation hubs and facilitate the understanding of the trends of scientific development. One of the two Future Science sub-forums in this year’s event will be held by Nature Research, part of Springer Nature and chief academic partner to the Forum. Themed “Redesigning the World from the Micro to the Macro”, the sub-forum will focus on materials science that is closely related to social development, present functional materials and latest materials technologies, and inspire discussions on how to reshape the world from the micro to the macro level. 


The advent of the modern world is, to a great extent, made possible by the development of materials science. The invention and discovery of new materials are crucial to our everyday life in today’s world. Even the fourth industrial revolution, which is based on information technology, would not be possible but for the advancement of materials science. 

For the better part of the human history, the world is built with macro-materials such as wood, stones and basic metals, which are widely used because of their naturalproperties and characteristics. With the advent of techniques including smelting, vulcanization and polymerization, we are able to improve these materials and even create man-made types to better suit our needs.

To create new materials, we need to start from the very basics, namely the micro-level foundations for specific properties. That being the case, modern materials science has increasingly shifted its focus to the micro approaches, which is perfectly demonstrated by the widespread use of the nanotech. From touch-sensitive plastics to metamaterials that defy the law of electromagnetism, our exploration into the micro-world has enabled and facilitated the invention of new materials that are broadly applicable in emerging industries such as energy, health and medical care, information technology, etc. 

One example could be found in biomedicine, where artificially synthesized materials have been successfully used in making human organs and tissues, as well as pharmaceutical excipients and drug carriers. Artificially synthesized nanomaterials, apart from their resemblance with biomolecules in terms of size, structure and functions, have unconventional characteristics. In addition, by controlling the movement of unimolecular and polymolecular movement, scientists might be able to control and assemble the molecular machine that could be used to locate cancer cells and transfer or release drugs, thus facilitating the development of precision medicine.

Professor Rachel O’Reilly at the University of Warwick in the UK is dedicated to the studies of polymer materials in the field of biomedicine. Using conventional methods in chemistry, she has developed new strategies for polymerization so as to design, synthesize and apply uniquely derived polymeric materials. Under her leadership, her team has successfully delivered synthetic molecular machinery made from DNA that controls and records the formation of covalent bonds. The objective of professor O’Reilly’s work is to make the formation of polymers more controllable and precise by using the supramolecular assembly.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 was awarded jointly to three scientists that had made groundbreaking contributions in the field of molecular machine design and synthesis. As an evolving area that is highly interdisciplinary, it bridges the interface between synthetic, polymer and catalysis chemistry. Besides, the technology of molecular machine is also applicable to areas including molecular switches, sensors and catalytic studies. 

Professor O’Reilly is one of the most promising young scientists in the field of chemistry in Britain. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cambridge University and PhD degree in chemistry from Imperial College London. Professor O’Reilly has confirmed her attendance to the Future Science Forum and will deliver a speech. We will then be able to get a glimpse of her latest research in the synthesis of polymeric nanomaterials and share thoughts on the impact of polymeric materials on biomedicine and even the broader areas in the future. 
 
Will it be possible that we could change or even reshape the world with materials science in the not-so-distant future? Renowned scientists at this year’s Forum will provide insights into the differnt possibilities. Stay tuned.