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ONR Research Opportunities in Chemistry
methods of combating the problem are increasingly limited by environmental concerns. Biogenetic synthesis can be used to incorporate appropriate functional groups, which may be designed to migrate to the surface of a protective coating, thereby controlling marine biofilm formation. Mechanistic understanding of bioadhesion is critically needed for control of fouling and biocorrosion and represents the critical input for this material design effort. Continued research into the mechanisms of bioadhesion is an area of opportunity.
Another area in which research at the interface of chemistry and biology is expected to have an impact is in the design of physical methods for fast genetic analysis. Combinatorial synthesis is making available arrays of materials for numerous applications, including coatings and films. However, the design of appropriate processes for synthesizing molecular arrays and physical methods for measurement and analysis of surface properties are lagging. Hence, a concerted effort in both synthetic methods research and research designed to exploit the atomiclevel characterization offered by the new forms of microscopy—scanning tunneling microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and near-field optical microscopy—is timely. These techniques will lead to new, robust, and fast analytical methods.
New biomaterials are needed in applications such as wound healing, bone replacement, and controlled delivery of biologically active species. Biomolecular chemistry is poised to have a significant impact on the availability of biocompatible materials. It is important to know that current biomaterials have not been designed for such uses but have been chosen empirically from materials developed for nonbiological uses. In some cases this empirical approach has led to serious immunogenic complications. Understanding the fundamentals of biological performance at the molecular level will facilitate incorporation of biocompatible segments into synthetic systems for use in medical applications.