Research Interests

The central theme of our research program derives from a desire to better understand the thermodynamics and dynamics of polymers and polymer mixtures. Three broad areas of investigation have been developed for addressing these issues: polymer synthesis, chemical modification, and molecular characterization; structural analysis by neutron, X-ray, and light scattering, and electron microscopy; dynamical characterization through rheological and processing measurements and mechanical property evaluation. These efforts address issues in each field individually, as well as contributing to our central goals.

Anionic and living free-radical polymerization represent the primary synthetic tools with which we control polymer molecular weight, molecular weight distribution, microstructure, and chain architecture. Subsequent modifications such as catalytic hydrogenation provide for the preparation of model functionalized polymers. Molecular characterization techniques include NMR, size exclusion chromatography, and light scattering.

Establishing the phase behavior and excess thermodynamic properties of polymer mixtures and block copolymers is accomplished through extensive use of small-angle neutron scattering and neutron reflection, along with X-ray and light scattering conducted in our laboratory and at national facilities. We are particularly interested in elucidating the molecular mechanisms governing nanoscale morphology formation in melts and solutions, especially in aqueous systems, and related applications.

Polymer phase state is often correlated with rheological and mechanical properties, particularly for block copolymers, which we investigate in conjunction with the scattering experiments. The ultimate material properties that are addressed include modulus, tensile strength, ductility and toughness.

This basic research program affects a variety of technologically important fields, including polymer processing, composites, fracture mechanics, drug delivery and certain medical applications. An overarching theme of this research program reflects a commitment to develop commercially viable synthetic polymers that support a society based on the sustainable use of science and technology.

Selected Publications

  • “A15, σ, and a Quasicrystal: Access to Complex Particle Packings via Bidisperse Diblock Copolymer Blends,” A.P. Lindsay, R.M. Lewis, III, B. Lee, A.J. Peterson, T.P. Lodge, F.S. Bates, ACS Macro Letters, 9, 197-203 (2020).
  • “Internal Structure of Methylcellulose Fibrils,” P.W. Schmidt, S. Morozova, S.P. Ertem, M.L. Coughlin, I Davidovich, Y. Talmon, T.M. Reineke, F.S. Bates, T.P. Lodge, Macromolecules, 53, 398-405 (2020).
  • “Superlattice by Charged Block Copolymer Self-Assembly,” J. Shim, F.S. Bates, T.P. Lodge, Nature Commun., 10, #2108 (2019).
  • “Mechanically Robust and Recyclable Cross-linked Fibers from Melt Blown Anthracene-Functionalized Commodity Polymers,” K. Jin, A. Banerji, D. Kitto, F.S. Bates, C.J. Ellison, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 11, 12863-12870 (2019).
  • “Polymer Nanogels as Reservoirs to Inhibit Hydrophobic Drug Crystallization,” Z. Li, F.S. Bates, T.P. Lodge, ACS Nano, 13, 1232-1243 (2019).
  • “Role of Chain Length in the Formation of Frank-Kasper Phases in Diblock Copolymers,” R.M. Lewis III, A. Arora, H.K. Beech, B. Lee, A.P. Lindsay, T.P. Lodge, K.D. Dorfman, F.S. Bates, Phys. Rev. Lett., 121, 208802:1-5 (2018).
  • “Network Model of the Disordered Phase in Symmetric Diblock Copolymer Melts,” M. Yadav, F.S. Bates, D.C. Morse, Phys. Rev. Lett., 121, 127802:1-5 (2018).
  • “Consequences of Grafting Density on the Linear Viscoelastic Behavior of Graft Polymers,” I.N. Haugan, M.J. Maher, A.B. Chang, T.-P. Lin, R.H. Grubbs, M.A. Hillmyer, F.S. Bates, ACS Macro Macro Letters, 7, 525-530 (2018).
  • “Origins of Low Symmetry Phases in Asymmetric Diblock Copolymer Melts,” by K. Kim, A. Arora, R.M. Lewis III, M. Liu, W. Li, A.-C. Shi, K.D. Dorfman, F.S. Bates, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115, 847-854 (2018).
  • “Conformational Asymmetry and Quasicrystal Approximants in Linear Diblock Copolymers,” M.W. Schulze, R.M. Lewis, III, J.H. Lettow, R.J. Hickey, T.M. Gillard, M.A. Hillmyer, F.S. Bates, Phys. Rev. Lett., 118, 207801-1-5 (2017).
  • “Thermal Processing of Diblock Copolymer Melts Mimics Metallurgy,” K. Kim, M.W. Schulze, A. Arora, R. M. Lewis, III, M.A. Hillmyer, K.D. Dorfman, F.S. Bates, ,” Science, 356, 520-523 (2017).
  • “Combining Polyethylene and Polypropylene: Enhanced Performance With PE/iPP Multiblock Polymers,” J.M. Eagan, J. Xu, R. DiGirolamo, C.W. Macosko, C.M. Thurber, A.M. LaPointe, F.S. Bates, G.W. Coates, Science, 355, 814-816 (2017).
  • “Block Polymers - Pure Potential,” C.M. Bates, F.S. Bates, Macromolecules, 50, 3-22 (2017).
Frank Bates & Two Students


Phone: 612/624-0839

Office: 358 Amundson Hall

Research Group

Awards & Honors


Support Professor Frank S. Bates' research

  • B.S., Mathematics, State University of New York at Albany, 1976
  • S.M., Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1979
  • Sc.D., Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1982