Christopher Bowman
Distinguished Professor • James and Catherine Patten Endowed Chair • Clinical Professor of Restorative Dentistry • Co-Director of the NSF I/UCRC for Fundamentals and Applications and Photopolymerizations
Chemical and Biological Engineering



B.S., Purdue University (1988)
Ph.D., Purdue University (1991)

Research Interests

Photopolymerizations, Polymerization Reaction Engineering, Highly Cross linked Polymers, Dental Materials, Nanotechnology
Our general research thrust is the investigation of the formation, structure and properties of cross linked polymeric materials, particularly those formed from photopolymerization reactions. Specifically, our group is focusing on developing new materials and photopolymerization mechanisms for a variety of applications including biomaterials, microfluidic devices, dental restorations, liquid crystal displays, nanotechnology, and high technology. These interests are investigated by incorporating a mixture of polymerization reaction engineering, monomer and polymer synthesis, and experimental characterization.

Photopolymerization Reactions: The primary focus of our research effort involves the development, application, and understanding of photopolymerizations. We are currently utilizing a multifaceted approach to characterize the underlying mechanisms of the polymerization and the polymer structural evolution while also developing improved systems for a wide range of applications. The first approach involves experimental characterization and modeling of the polymerization kinetics and the cross linked polymer structural evolution. A second emphasis is the development of new monomers. In this effort we are designing, synthesizing and evaluating numerous monomer structures to obtain the most rapidly polymerizing system that forms a polymer with ideal properties. Lastly, we are developing new types of photopolymerizations, including both living radical polymerizations and thiol-ene polymerizations. These polymerizations are developed with the goal of leading to new applications and novel material architectures.

Polymers for Micro- and Nanotechnology: Our thrusts in the areas of micro- and nanotechnology are threefold. First, we are attempting to develop polymer – liquid crystal composites with controlled polymer nanostructures. To date, we have successfully created a three-dimensional polymer architecture that involves approximately 3 Å sheets of polymer separating 30 Å thick sheets of liquid crystal. These systems form materials for liquid crystal displays that have improved optical and mechanical properties relative to their non-polymer stabilized counterparts. Secondly, we are designing improved microfluidic devices that utilize living radical photopolymerizations to form unique, three-dimensional constructs. These devices, or labs-on-a-chip, are then used to detect diseases or chemical compounds. Finally, our micro- and nanotechnology efforts also focus on developing techniques for producing nanometer size patterns on surfaces. These capabilities will enable higher resolution patterning for micro- and nanolithography, including, for example, higher resolution semiconductor production.

Biomaterials Development: A focus of our group has been the development of new materials for various biological systems. In this area we are attempting to produce materials with controlled properties and controllable interactions to improve biocompatibility and functional performance. A thrust of our efforts in this area is in the development of novel dental restorative materials. The proposed materials, based on our improved understanding of the monomer structure – polymer formation – polymer property relationships in photopolymerizations, are targeted to polymerize more rapidly and form a material with improved properties. Additionally, we have developed techniques for utilizing our thiol-ene and living radical photopolymerizations to produce materials that facilitate improved control of material properties and polymer surfaces, respectively, in biomaterials.

International Association for Dental Research Peyton-Skinner Award for Innovation in Dental Materials, 2015

Named Distinguished Professor of the University of Colorado by CU Board of Regents, 2012

American Institute of Chemical Engineering Professional Progress Award for Outstanding Progress in Chemical Engineering, 2011

Colorado Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program, 2011

American Institute of Chemical Engineering Charles M.A. Stine Award, 2009

Residence Academic Life Teaching Award, Committee on Learning and Academic Support Services, University of Colorado, 2008

American Chemical Society, Division of Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering Cooperative Research Award, 2007

American Institute of Chemical Engineers R.H. Wilhem Award, 2006

University of Colorado Faculty Fellowship, 2005-06

Clemson University Award for Contributions to the Literature, 2005

College of Engineering Max S. Peters Outstanding Service Award, 2004

University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office Physical Sciences Inventor of the Year, 2003

College of Engineering, John and Mercedes Peebles Teaching Innovation Award, 2002

Boulder, Faculty Assembly Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarly, and Creative Work, 2002

Department of Chemical Engineering Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2002

AIChE Allan P. Colburn Award (2001)

American Society of Engineering Education Curtis W. McGraw Award (2000)

Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (1998)

Materials Research Society Outstanding Young Investigator Award (1997)

Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1996)

T.F. Scott, B.A. Kowalski, A.C. Sullivan, C.N. Bowman, R.R. McLeod, “Single Photon Photoinitiation-Photoinhibition for Diffraction-Unlimited Photolithography,” Science, 324, 913-917 (2009).

B.D. Fairbanks, M.P. Schwartz, A.E. Halevi, C.R. Nuttelman, C.N. Bowman, and K.S. Anseth, “A versatile Synthetic Extracellular Matrix Mimic via Thiol-Norbornene Photopolymerization,” Advanced Materials, 21, 5005-5010 (2009).

H.D. Sikes, R. Jenison, and C.N. Bowman, “Antigen Detection using Polymerization-based Amplification,” Lab on a Chip, 9, 653-656 (2009). (Cover illustration from This Article)

C.J. Kloxin, T. Scott, and C.N. Bowman, “Stress Relaxation via Addition-Fragmentation Chain Transfer in a Thiol-ene Photopolymerization,” Macromolecules, 42, 2551-2556 (2009).

K.A. Berchtold, B. Hacioglu, J. Nie, N.B. Cramer, J.W. Stansbury, and C.N. Bowman, “Rapid Solid-State Photopolymerization of Cyclic Acetal Containing Acrylates,” Macromolecules, 42, 2433-2437 (2009).

B. Fairbanks, T. Scott, C. Kloxin, K. Anseth, and C.N. Bowman, “Thiol-Yne Photopolymerizations: Novel Mechanism, Kinetics and Step Growth Formation of Highly Crosslinked Networks,” Macromolecules, 42, 211-217 (2009).

L.M. Johnson, B. Fairbanks, K.S. Anseth, and C.N. Bowman, “Enzyme-Mediated Redox Initiation for Hydrogel Generation and Cellular Encapsulation,” Biomacromolecules, 10, 3114-3121 (2009).

M.C. Lawson, R. Shoemaker, K.B. Hoth, C.N. Bowman, and K.S. Anseth, “Polymerizable Vancomycin Derivatives for Bactericidal Biomaterial Surface Modification: Structure-Function Evaluation,” Biomacromolecules, 10, 2221-2234 (2009).