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King University News :: Eastman Chemical Company Donates Max A. Weaver Dye Library to NC State

BRISTOL, Tenn., June 2, 2014 – Eastman Chemical Company recently donated its Max A. Weaver Dye Library to North Carolina State University. The collection, housed in NC State’s College of Textiles, includes some 98,000 vials of custom-made dyes, as well as tens of thousands of dyed fabric samples and a series of World War II-era intelligence reports on the German dyestuff industry. The library, named for the late King University alumnus Max A. Weaver, will now be available to researchers across the globe after having served for years as a research tool for scientists and engineers at Eastman.

“It’s a treasure trove of data that has never been published or shared outside of a small group of scientists and engineers,” says NC State textile chemist David Hinks, director of the emerging Forensic Sciences Institute at NC State. “Eastman has had the foresight to bring their technical expertise to the public through NC State for the common good. Now we can make this collection available to the entire world, to help advance science.” Hinks will oversee the Dye Library research

Max Weaver, for whom the library was named, was a native of Ashe County, N.C. He received his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry magna cum laude from King College (now King University) in 1958. He then received his master’s degree in Chemistry from East Tennessee State University in 1963.

The donation of the dye library, which complements an Eastman Center of Excellence at NC State, will carry on the legacy of Max Weaver, longtime dye research leader for Eastman, and his research team. “The dye library is priceless as the culmination of hundreds of thousands of person hours in innovation and development of new chemicals for various applications,” says Hinks.

Thanks to Internet sharing tools, chemists around the world will be ultimately able to use data such as 3-D crystallographic models of the chemical structures that the late Max Weaver drew by hand on glass vials. NC State will digitize and post the structures along with key cheminformatics data using ChemSpider, a free online resource by the Royal Society of Chemistry that allows users to search for chemical compounds or fragments of compounds.

Building a digital database of dyes will complement NC State’s development of a dyed fiber database of automotive and other fabrics for use in criminal investigations. Today, no comprehensive forensic dye database exists.  

“The benefit of this donation of dyes is that our library will contain not 1,000, but 100,000 dyes, which means that we can bring new statistical evidence to forensic fiber analysis and examination,” Hinks says.

Hinks adds the next generation of analytical chemists will build their skills as undergraduate and graduate researchers who contribute to the forensic science database. Textiles scientists and engineers will study it for ways to create environmentally responsible dyes that can be applied to textiles, paper, packaging, cosmetics, hair coloring, and a host of other products.

“Colleagues in engineering and sciences are also eager to tap into the dye library for their research,” says Hinks. “As an example, Dr. David Muddiman’s research group in chemistry is developing state-of-the-art analytical techniques for forensic analysis of dyed fibers. And, Dr. Frank Hunte’s group in materials science and engineering is interested in developing new dye applications with improved infrared absorption signatures that can prevent military personnel from being detected by night-vision scopes.”

Dyes are also used in the development of improved efficiency of solar cells, a key research area at NC State. Medical researchers and dye chemists such as NC State Ciba Professor Harold Freeman use dyes to develop targeted cancer treatments. 

“The dyes are designed to dye cancer cells and not healthy cells,” Hinks says. “That allows doctors to identify the cancer but also, by shining a tunable laser onto that area, the dye will absorb the energy of the laser and kill the cancer cell. So this is a form of targeted chemotherapy.”

“The library will support research for years to come,” says Hinks. “What many people don’t recognize is that research learns from the past, and so you have to be able to access it to be able to advance science and engineering in the future.”

After leaving King, Weaver joined Eastman Chemical Company in 1958 as a chemist in their research laboratories. He spent the next 29 years in research and development work on textiles.

After he had retired in 1987, Weaver served as an assistant professor of chemistry at King College (now King University) for seven years, and as a consultant for Eastman Kodak Rochester, N.C., Milliken Spartanburg, S.C., and Eastman Chemical Co., in Kingsport, Tenn. He contributed articles to numerous science journals and chapters to books. In 1994, Max was recipient of the Patenting Distinction Award from Eastman Chemical Co.; Patenting Career Achievement Award in 2007; and the Research Medal from Worshipful Co. Dyers, Society Dyers and Colourist in London, England in 2003. As a member of the American Association of Textile Chemist and Colorist, he received the Olney Medal in 2002 and the Henry E. Millson Invention award in 2002. He was named Speaker of the Year by the American Chemical Society in 1984-85. In 1991, his alma mater King University awarded him with an honorary Doctor of Science degree, and in 2007, he was awarded KU’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year. Weaver passed away in Oct. 2012.

Over the course of his career, Weaver received 268 patents.


Photo note for third photo: Textile chemist David Hinks (left, red shirt) and his new colleague, analytical chemist Nelson Vinueza, speak in the Max A. Weaver Dye Library at North Carolina State University. Hinks is the director of the emerging Forensic Sciences Institute at NC State University and will oversee the dye library research. Vinueza is an expert from Ecuador who recently joined NC State as part of a cluster of interdisciplinary researchers in forensic science. He was hired through the Chancellor's Faculty Excellence Program.

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