Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division

2007 ACS Applied Polymer Science Award in Honor of Harry R. Allcock

Harry R. Allcock, Winner of the 2007 ACS Award in Applied Polymer Science, is cited "for his seminal contributions to hybrid inorganic-organic polymers and especially for his development of polyphosphazenes for advances in biomedicine, photonics, and energy research".

Harry Allcock is Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University. He is one of the leading experts in the field of inorganic-organic polymers and materials derived from them. His early training was in organometallic and physical-organic chemistry, with his B.Sc. (1953) and Ph.D. (1956) degrees received from the University of London. His interest in polymers and materials developed during two postdoctoral appointments and five years as a research scientist at the American Cyanamid Central Research Laboratories in Connecticut. In 1964 he carried out the critical experiments that led to the synthesis of the first stable polyphosphazenes. These polymers have since proved to be the most diverse inorganic-organic macromolecules yet known, with over 700 different polymers now prepared and characterized, some of which have been developed commercially.

Since 1966 he has led a team of coworkers in the Chemistry Department at Penn State that has made many of the fundamental discoveries in the design, synthesis, and structural characterization of polyphosphazenes and related systems, and has been responsible for extending the primary chemistry into areas as diverse as biomedicine, energy storage, communications science, and novel structural materials. Concurrently, his research group has made numerous fundamental advances in the field of small-molecule inorganic ring systems, and has pioneered the use of these compounds as models for the reactions and structures of high polymers.

Among the applied developments he has initiated in recent years are the first hydrogels and responsive membranes based on polyphosphazenes, new bioerodible polymers for tissue engineering, high refractive index, NLO, and liquid crystalline polymers for photonic advances, and a wide range of ion conductive polymers with unique properties of interest in the energy storage and energy generation fields. His recent work with hydrophobic and super-hydrophobic surfaces promises to lead to new advances in both surface science and biomedicine.

Allcock has trained more than 130 graduate students and postdoctorals at Penn State. He has played a major role in connecting the fields of inorganic chemistry and polymer science, and he has done much to expand the appeal of polymer chemistry through his lecturing and writing activities.

Harry Allcock was the recipient of the 1984 American Chemical Society Award in Polymer Chemistry, the 1992 ACS Award in the Chemistry of Materials, and the 1994 Herman F. Mark Polymer Award. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1986-87, and has held numerous endowed lectureships. He was a visiting scientist at Stanford University, Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, and the IBM Almaden Laboratories in San Jose, California. He is the author or co-author of over 500 publications and five books in the fields of inorganic and organic polymers and materials, and has co-edited three additional volumes on these topics.

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