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DSM Materials Sciences Award 2016 goes to Professor Steven P. Armes

Sittard, NL, 25 Jul 2016 12:00 CEST

Award recognizes pioneering work on polymerization-induced self-assembly, and inspiring solutions for society’s needs

Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials, today announced that Professor Steven P. Armes (54), Professor of Polymer and Colloid Chemistry at the University of Sheffield (UK), has been awarded the DSM Materials Science Award 2016. The Award recognizes his exceptional contribution to the advancement of macromolecular architecture which is applied in many everyday situations, including the development of dirt-repellant coatings and lubricants that reduce wear and fuel consumption.

(l-r) DSM's Marcel Wubbolts & Professor Steven Armes

An international jury, chaired by Dr. Marcel Wubbolts, Chief Technology Officer of DSM, selected Professor Armes from among the candidates proposed in a public call for nominations. Professor Armes received the award − which carries a cash prize of EUR 50,000 − from Dr. Wubbolts at a special ceremony at the University of Sheffield on Wednesday 20 July 2016.

Professor Steven P. Armes: “I’m delighted to accept this Award on behalf of the past and current members of my research group, whose hard work and enthusiasm keep me motivated,” said Prof. Armes. “I’d also like to thank Professor Tony Ryan for nominating me and also my many academic and industrial collaborators across the world, including various current and former scientists at DSM. As a polymer chemist, I believe that the most interesting problems are best identified by working across academic disciplines, often in close partnership with industrial colleagues.”

Dr. Marcel Wubbolts:“The jury recognizes the broad impact of Professor Armes’ work, as is also exemplified by statements of experts in the field of Polymer Chemistry. The theme of this year’s Award was Macromolecular Architecture for Brighter Living, and Prof. Armes’ work resonates with all aspects of this theme. Professor Armes has also been actively involved in turning academic knowledge into societally relevant solutions to needs. I’m really looking forward to seeing the progress he will make during the rest of his career.”

Pioneering macromolecular research

Professor Armes’s work on Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly (PISA) is both highly original and highly relevant to society. Applications include additives that reduce wear and fuel consumption (e.g., in cars), coatings that are “self-cleaning” or dirt-repellant, as well as anti-reflective coatings for increasing the efficiency of solar panels. In particular, Professor Armes has designed a wide range of macromolecular structures using block copolymers prepared via RAFT polymerization. During their synthesis, such block copolymers self-assemble to form either spheres, worm-like particles or vesicular structures. Prof. Armes has shown that PISA is a highly efficient, versatile and generic platform technology that works well in water, polar solvents or non-polar solvents. In addition, Professor Armes has worked closely with Dr. O. O. Mykhaylyk and Professor A. J. Ryan at the University of Sheffield on the detailed characterization of PISA-synthesized block copolymer nanoparticles using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). His related work and associated IP on using block copolymer spheres as templates for controlled silica deposition has inspired DSM scientists to produce high-quality anti-reflective coatings for solar cell cover glass. Such mesoporous thin films also offer potential for controlled release applications and the design of biomimetic de novo structures.

Scientific career

Professor Steven P. Armes obtained a first-class B.Sc. degree in Chemistry from Bristol University in 1983 and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the same institution in 1987. His doctoral thesis focused on the synthesis and characterization of conducting polymer colloids. After a 22-month postdoctoral fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, he joined the University of Sussex in 1989. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1995 and given a personal chair in 2000. He moved to Sheffield University in 2004, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014.

Additional Information

Aside from the DSM Materials Sciences Award, Professor Armes has received the 2014 RSC Interdisciplinary Prize, the 2013 RSC Tilden Prize, the RSC 2010 Peter Day Award for soft matter research, and the 2007 RSC Macro Group Medal for his contribution to UK polymer science. He delivered the RSC 2014 Thomas Graham Lecture and the 2015 Colloid and Polymer Science Lecture for the German Colloid Society. He has also been a recipient of a Royal Society/Wolfson Research Merit Award (2005–2009) and currently holds an ERC five-year Advanced Investigator grant in the area of Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly. He has published more than 550 papers (H-index = 96) and has supervised more than 50 Ph.D. students.

DSM Materials Sciences Award

DSM bestows the Materials Sciences Award every two years in recognition of outstanding scientific work by an established scientist who has contributed significantly to the advancement of the Materials Sciences field. The Award forms part of DSM’s Bright Science Awards Program, and is designed to recognize and reward lifetime achievement on the part of seasoned scientists from all over the world. Previous recipients include Professor Jiang Ping Gong of the Faculty of Advanced Life Science at Hokkaido University in Japan and Professor Geoff Coates of Cornell University (USA).