2009 Tabor medal and prize

Professor Richard Jones

University of Sheffield

For his innovative work characterising polymer surfaces and thin films; and for his more recent work in nanoscience, developing novel polymeric nanostructures and being involved with societal aspects of the field.

Richard Jones is notable for his seminal work on polymer surfaces. His work demonstrating surface segregation of one component in polymer blend was a notable first. He then showed that this surface segregation led to the development of surface-driven spinodal decomposition, a property that is of great significance of the phase separation processes that occur in thin films, including those of increasing importance in the polymeric device field. As neutron reflectivity developed as a technique, he was able to show the existence of capillary waves at surfaces and interfaces, which resolved the published discrepancy in the width of interfaces between immiscible blends. His heavily cited work on the thickness dependence of the glass transition in thin polymer films due to the presence of surfaces initiated world-wide research into this topic, because of its importance in processing and manipulating thin films in devices and many other situations. His work on polymer surfaces has also extended into the study of how proteins adsorb and unfold at surfaces. His research in this field led to the co-authoring of the definitive text on polymers at surfaces (with Randal Richards).

Developing from this, he has become active in nanostructuring soft polymer surfaces, via instabilities and phase separation approaches, and in the wider field of nanoscience having worked with social scientists, policy makers, research councils, and with the public. His blog and his book (Soft Machines, written for the layperson) have both had enormous impact.