Frank S. Bates is a materials scientist and chemical engineer recognized for his work on synthetic polymers. He has advanced the basic understanding and practical application of block polymers, polymer blends and polymer solutions through model synthesis, structural analysis and property characterization. Bates was born and raised in New York City and graduated from the State University of New York at Albany in 1976 with a B.S. in Mathematics. He received S.M. and Sc.D. degrees in 1979 and 1982 in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then spent 7 years as a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ. In 1989 Bates joined the faculty in the department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota where he served as Head from 1999 to 2014. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Interests

Bates explores a wide range topics associated with the structure and properties of polymers and related soft materials. The thermodynamics and phase behavior of block polymers, polymer blends and polymer solutions are addressed using light, x-ray and neutron scattering, and various real-space imaging techniques including electron microscopy. Melt state dynamics are probed with rheological tools while solid state properties including elasticity, ductility and fracture are explored by mechanical testing, often in conjuncture with scattering methods. Block polymers self-assemble into myriad ordered and disordered morphologies with nanoscale dimensions. The Bates group investigates how macromolecular architecture influences the formation of low symmetry periodic crystals and aperiodic quasicrystals using model block polymer compounds synthesized in his laboratory. Mixtures of block polymers and homopolymers result in the formation of a host of morphologies including bicontinuous microemulsions. Amphiphilic block polymers self-assemble into micelles and vesicles in solution, which have myriad applications including drug delivery and modification of cell membranes. His group pursues new avenues for making sustainable plastics and elastomers through the use of biologically sourced monomers and innovative approaches to recycling. The research conducted by Bates is supported by theory and simulation through various collaborations.

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Primary Section

Section 31: Engineering Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 14: Chemistry