The Bronze Age, the Stone Age, and the Iron Age along with other periods of human history are broadly characterized by the materials that enabled society to advance technologically during that period. As made famous in the movie “The Graduate,” where Dustin Hoffman’s character is told “Just one word… Just one word… Plastics!,” from the late 20th Century we have been living in the “Plastics Age.”
Plastics, often referred to as polymers, have the potential for more variability and control of material properties than almost any material that preceded them while also being affordable and readily processed. From Ziploc bags and Plexiglass to silly putty or from photoresists and matrices for growing new tissues to drug delivery vehicles, the capacity for polymeric materials to transform our every day lives has been demonstrated repeatedly.
Professor Chris N. Bowman's Distinguished Research Lecture will focus on the ability of polymeric materials to respond in a “smart” manner to an applied stimulus, in particular where these materials are designed to be either formed or have their properties and shape altered upon exposure to light. These materials are formed by altering the most basic molecular structure of the polymer, i.e., the monomer unit, to include novel chemistries that enable the materials to react or respond in the desired manner. When polymer formation and properties are controlled by light exposure, they are particularly valuable where a desired reaction or response must be controlled to occur only at the desired time and location for applications as diverse as additive manufacturing, smart windows, and as photolithographic masks for production of semiconductors.
Professor Christopher N. Bowman is currently the James and Catherine Patten Endowed Chair and a Distiguished Professor of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, with additional appointments in the Biofrontiers Institute, the Materials Science and Engineering Program, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the Dental School.
He received his BS and PhD in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University in 1988 and 1991, respectively. After receiving his PhD, he began his academic career at the University of Colorado Boulder in January 1992. Since that time, Professor Bowman has built a program focused on the fundamentals and applications of crosslinked polymers formed via photopolymerizations and click reactions.
His research focuses on the design and development of new polymer structures and understanding and translating those developments into practical improvements in materials performance, particularly for smart, responsive polymer materials. In particular, his research involves the synthesis of novel monomers and the implementation of various photoinitiated polymerization reactions in a range of applications including adhesives, coatings, dental materials, photolithography, nanotechnology and biomaterials.
Professor Bowman has published more than 350 refereed papers that have been cited more than 25,000 times, and supervised 50 completed PhD theses and 200 undergraduate researchers during his time at CU Boulder.
Professor Bowman has been granted more than 20 patents, including multiple patents that have been translated into commercial products, and he was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2017. Additionally, he has been recognized with international awards from the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, the Materials Research Society and the Society for Biomaterials.