Christopher Bates, an assistant professor of materials and chemical engineering at UC Santa Barbara, has been recognized as one of the Rising Stars in Polymers in 2021 by ACS Polymers Au, the open-access journal of the American Chemical Society. Editors invited Bates and twelve other outstanding early-career polymer scientists who have been leading cutting-edge, novel, and impactful research to submit peer-reviewed manuscripts for the journal’s virtual special issue that was published in February 2022.
The Bates research group works at the intersection of chemistry and materials science, leveraging synthetic and physical experimental techniques with the goal to understand block polymer self-assembly and design, and engineer new elastomeric materials and thin film patterning.
His article for the special issue, titled “Carbon Nanotube Composites with the Bottlebrush Elastomers for Compliant Electrodes,” discussed a new class of super soft, conductive elastomers that he and collaborators developed by leveraging a highly branched bottlebrush polymer architecture. The new composites, comprising carbon nanotubes embedded in bottlebrush polymer networks, are several orders of magnitude softer than comparable materials that involve linear polymer networks. Their unique strategy of designing soft composites provides new opportunities to tailor the structure and properties of sustainable advanced materials. Their findings will be useful to the material science community in applications where both softness and conductivity are valuable, such as wearable electronics and biointerfacing technology.