J D. Hewes, Debra L. Kaiser, Alamgir Karim, Eric J. Amis
In 1995, the rapid fabrication of tens, hundreds, and, eventually, tens of thousands of samples in two-dimensional arrays of discrete microscaled samples (pixels) using lithography methods developed for the electronics industry was reported. Importantly, the team developed technologies for the rapid characterization of entire arrays (library) by using a matrix of sensors that corresponded to the samples deposited on the silicon wafer. The researchers commercialized these methodologies, hardware, and software through the start-up firm Symyx Technologies. Symyx developed and marketed combinatorial methods, or high throughput experimentation (HTE), for advanced materials, and created a new paradigm in materials research for the chemical process industry (CPI) and the advanced materials producers. This discontinuity, or step-change, reflected an earlier response by the pharmaceutical industry toward significant market demands for new products reduced product innovation cycle time, increased return on research and development (R&D) investment, and industry consolidation. Symyx Technologies facilitated implementation efforts throughout the chemicals and advanced materials industries, with the result that the methodology known as combinatorial chemistry is now relatively ubiquitous in companies conducting research in advanced materials, catalysts, and polymers.