Innovating Polymers Design and Application

We develop and characterize polymer materials that solve problems in sustainability and health care, and we consider changes in material properties that occur as a function of environmental conditions.

See Our Research

About The Group

Our research group focuses on the synthesis and characterization of polymers and biomaterials for soft robotics, hydrogel actuators, drug delivery, sensors, biodegradable materials, and other applications.

We strive to understand the material properties not only in a lab environment, but also in a simulated environment that mimics the environmental conditions where the materials will be used. Some of the problems we are trying to solve are in helping patients with glaucoma with drug delivery devices that remove some of the hassles associated with eye drop treatments, detecting the presence of biomarkers that are expressed in patients in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and are associated with patient outcomes, developing novel adhesives that incorporate biodegradable biomaterials, creating orthodontic adhesives with triggerable detachment processes that allow for the rapid release of the adhesive from a tooth substrate, and considering end-of-life scenarios of polymers and biomaterials and developing materials that degrade under natural environmental conditions, including soil, landfills, and water. Our works aims to understand structure and property relationships and how the properties of polymers change as a function of environmental conditions.

The philosophy that drives our innovation is in sustainable practices, whether that is decreasing the plastic waste accumulation in the environment, maximizing the use of polymer materials to prevent unnecessary contamination, or reimagining the monomers and constituents that are used in polymer-based consumer products.

In the News

bates group

Wax On

December 2018

A University of Utah materials science and engineering assistant professor Jeff Bates has created a new ski wax that not only has caught the eye of recreationists but also of Popular Science magazine.

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bates group

A Better Sustainable Sanitary Pad

May 2017

A team of students led by University of Utah materials science and engineering assistant professor (lecturer) Jeff Bates has developed a new, 100-percent biodegradable feminine maxi pad that is made of all natural materials and is much thinner and more comfortable than other similar products.

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DPS Phantom Lets You Never Wax Your Skis Again, But Does It Work?

December 2017

Over the last year, the Salt Lake City-based ski company has developed a wax, er, rather, a permanent base glide treatment for skis and snowboards. Yes, permanent. The on-snow go goo, named Phantom, is advertised to be a base-coating glide treatment that will eliminate any need to re-wax, ever.

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