stand chemical structures and interactions, to characterize and modify materials, and to control production processes is important to developing functional and economically feasible new materials and products more broadly. The application of glycoscience to materials science and engineering represents an expanding area for the field and one for which continued research and development will be needed.

As a result, the committee finds that:

  • By fostering a greater understanding of the properties of glycans and of plant cell wall construction and deconstruction, glycoscience can play an important role in the development of nonpetroleum-based sustainable new materials.
  • Glycan-based materials have wide-ranging uses in such areas as fine chemicals and feedstocks, polymeric materials, and nanomaterials.
  • There are many pathways to create a variety of functionalities on a glycan, creating a wide range of options for tailoring material properties.

3.4     SUMMARY

This chapter explores three significant ways in which carbohydrates contribute to society—in human health, in energy, and in materials. Glycans are closely linked to both normal physiological function and to the genesis and development of disease. They play promising roles in the discovery of new diagnostic biomarkers for such diseases as cancer and for new therapeutic targets. But glycans and glycoscience also have important roles to play in the improved conversion of biofuels and the design and creation of new carbohydrate-based materials. As a result, glycoscience knowledge will contribute to the development of new energy and materials science solutions that can replace some of the roles currently played by petroleum-based products. This chapter attempts to provide a sense of some of the unanswered questions in glycoscience as well as the exciting potential that may be realized through future research. The next chapter continues this discussion by exploring a set of questions that we may not yet have the necessary tools to fully address but the pursuit of whose answers remains an exciting challenge.

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