Frank Leibfarth has been awarded the DSM Polymer Technology Award 2012

A judging committee comprising experts in polymer chemistry chose the winner from among four candidates selected as finalists. Frank Leibfarth has developed a platform technology in polymer chemistry based on the ketene organic functional group. The versatility of this winning research allows discrete property changes of a material upon a simple heat treatment, providing on-demand access to robust and highly functional plastics in an operationally simple manner. The modularity and cost-effective nature of this technology make it a powerful tool for chemists, materials scientists and engineers enabling old plastics to be imparted with new and complex functions. This opens up the way to innovative ‘smart’ plastic materials for application in areas such as microelectronics, energy and biotechnology. The award carries a cash prize of USD 2,000.

Frank Leibfarth: “I am humbled to receive the prestigious Polymer Technology Award from DSM, whose support of young scientists not only displays their commitment to the research community, but also reinforces their reputation as an innovative and forward-looking company. DSM’s partnership with the Polymer Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society and academic researchers will be critical in developing commercial products which make our world a better, more sustainable and more equitable place to live. I am honored to be part of such an effort through this award.”

The other three finalists were: Brian Adzima, Andrew Davis and Peiwen Zheng. All four finalists presented their PhD research at a special DSM – ACS POLY Symposium held in Philadelphia on August 21 as part of the ACS Fall Meeting.

Dr. Reinier Grimbergen, VP R&D at DSM and chair of the judging committee, presented the award to Frank Leibfarth at the ACS POLY awards reception held in Philadelphia on August 22. Dr. Grimbergen: “With our Polymer Technology Award we want to recognize and reward exceptional PhD research by bright young researchers working at the cutting edge of science. I was deeply impressed by the quality of the work of all four finalists of this year and by the self-assured grasp of their topics that they showed in their presentations. I am convinced that their work will help us meet the innovation needs of the future.”

The four finalists and their PhD research

Frank A. Leibfarth conducted his research in the Materials Research Laboratory at the University of California Santa Barbara under the supervision of Prof. Craig Hawker. PhD research: ‘Chemistry and Application of Ketene Functionalized Polymers’.

Brian J. Adzima conducted his research in the Dept. of Chemical & Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder under the supervision of Prof. Christopher Bowman. PhD research: ‘Cycloaddition Polymerizations’.

Andrew R. Davis conducted his research in the Dept. of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the supervision of Prof. Kenneth Carter. PhD research: ‘Charge Transport in Thiol-Ene Cross-linked Conjugated Polymer Networks’.

Peiwen Zheng conducted her research in the Dept. of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the supervision of Prof. Thomas McCarthy. PhD research: ‘Preparation, Characterization, and Applications of Novel Siloxane Networks’.

The award

The DSM Polymer Technology Award forms part of DSM’s Bright Science Awards program. This award program aims to recognize and reward outstanding scientists and to strengthen DSM’s interaction with the academic world. The DSM Polymer Technology Award is granted for innovative PhD or post-doctoral research in polymer technology. It has been established in partnership with the Division of Polymer Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (ACS POLY). The Award is open to new and current PhD researchers based in the USA. Nominated research must relate to the published theme of that year’s award. For 2012, the focus was on ‘Advanced Polymer Networks’, and nominations were invited for PhD research in fields including, but not limited to reversible networks, self-assembling networks, innovative cross-linking strategies, and applications thereof.