The goal of this program is to develop chemical reagents and methods for amplifying trace levels of input signals into extremely large output responses. The input signals can be chemcial (e.g. small molecules, inorganic ions, proteins, or nucleic acids) or physical (e.g. light), and the output signals can range from production of color to changes in a material's magnetic susceptibility, physical shape, and/or surface properties. Our primary interests are two-fold: (i) to use chemical amplification to simplify and reduce the expenses associated with point-of-care diagnostics (particularly those used in the developing world) while retaining high-level function (i.e., selectivity and sensitivity); and (ii) to generate materials that can be programmed to respond dramatically to chemical signals in the environment by changing shape or function quickly. The broad goal of the program is to fundamentally change the way that materials interact with the world, and to give "life-like" behavior to inanimate objects. As a first step towards these goals, we propose two classes of amplification systems -- linear and exponential -- and we outline new chemistries that are needed to enable the development of these schemes. Our goal is to generate simple amplification protocols that can be applied broadly and reproduced easily by others; we have the belief that "more is better" and that materials and analytical systems that incorporate amplification mechanisms will show remarkably sophisticated function.
Arnold O. Beckman exemplifies the meaning of the word humanitarian. Combined with his unwavering enthusiasm for life, his keen sense of humor and his strong moral and ethical principles, he is a national icon.