29 Oct 2010
Dr Alex Routh delivered the 2010 McBain Lecture and received the McBain Medal in recognition of his contribution to colloid and surface chemistry. Dr Routh is a lecturer at Cambridge University's BP Institute.
Your work predicts patterns or pathways that will form when paint dries. How did you do this?
AR: We always try to start with the simplest model and then write the basic equations describing the process. With regard to film cracking, the method was to follow the water in the film and to determine how this moved. The particles then followed the water.
What commercial applications has this research got in industry?
AR: We have been fortunate to have worked closely with a number of industrial companies. A lot of the film drying work has been in collaboration with Akzo Nobel, and I hope the findings will work their way into a product. The encapsulation work has involved BP, and I also hope that it will find an application in the field.
The McBain Medal recognises scientists who have succeeded early in their career. What is your proudest achievement so far?
AR: We have some very exciting findings that we are in the process of writing up. We have succeeded in encapsulating bacteria; have observed a strange crack propagation mechanism and also seen a novel attraction in emulsion systems. All of these make me very proud.
What are you aiming to achieve in the future?
AR: I would like to be able to look back in a number of years and say that I have made a difference. Whether this is research findings; products that we helped develop or students who have gone onto great things. I guess I want to be remembered!
What did you discuss at the McBain Lecture?
AR: I discussed the work on drying of dispersions that we have been doing over the past ten years. This will cover cracking and pattern formation through to film templating.