Doolittle Award honors UH professor for outstanding research in polymers


Rigoberto Advincula to receive kudos and lead symposium at American Chemical Society Meeting

HOUSTON, March 26, 2004 Rigoberto Advincula, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Houston, will be presented with the Arthur K. Doolittle Award in the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) Division at the American Chemical Society (ACS) 227th National Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., during a ceremony Monday, March 29, 2004.

The award, established by the Union Carbide Corporation (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company), is given to the authors of an outstanding paper presented at each national meeting of the ACS. Royalties from Doolittle's book "Technology of Solvents and Plasticizers" finance a $1,000 prize.

Advincula co-authored the winning paper, "Adsorption Phenomena of Polyelectrolytes, Amphiphilic Block and Star Copolymers on Surfaces as Investigated by the Quartz Crystal Microbalance Method," with Mi-Kyoung Park, a UH research assistant, Stergios Pispas and Nikos Hadjichristidis from the University of Athens-Greece, and Jimmy W. Mays from the University of Tennessee.

While Advincula shares the award with his co-authors, who were involved more in the experimental part and materials contribution, his contribution was key in the win with the award criteria primarily being based on presentation and development and analysis of scientific content, which was his role in the project.

"The award has been given since 1981, with a number of the recipients having made outstanding contributions to the polymer field throughout their careers," Advincula said. "This work is especially relevant to research into new materials based on polymers that have practical applications in adhesives, coatings and lubricants.

"By investigating how polymers 'stick' to surfaces in real time, we can understand and control the formation of new thin film polymer materials even at the nanoscale. It is of paramount importance in a number of existing technologies, from semiconductor processing to biomedical implants and tissue engineering."

Well versed in characterizing and understanding interfacial and surface phenomena, Advincula's Doolittle award is complemented by a $2 million grant he recently received from the National Science Foundation, along with the University of Tennessee, the University of Utah and Clemson University, to develop nanoscale "Velcro" materials based on polymer brushes.

"By looking at the behavior of loops, hooks and tails of polymers attached to surfaces, new nanomaterials with interesting chemistries for interfacial modification and adhesion will be developed," Advincula said.

Advincula also is organizing a special symposium on "Nanostructured Materials Based on Polyelectrolytes, Colloids and Nanoparticles in Ultrathin Films" at the ACS meeting at 8:30 a.m. (P.S.T.), Sunday, March 28. This international symposium brings together scientists from a variety of research fields and research groups involved in investigating new nanomaterials and interfacial phenomena combining polymers and inorganic nanoparticles.

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