Robert (Bob) Allen  Robert  (Bob) Allen photo         

contact information

Senior Manager, Chemistry/Materials
IBM Research - Almaden, San Jose, CA, USA


Professional Associations

Professional Associations:  American Chemical Society  |  National Academy of Engineering  |  SPIE -- International Society of Optical Engineering


I'm a native of Sharon, Pennsylvania and a graduate in Chemistry (B.S.) from Gannon College in Erie, PA. I became fascinated with organic and (especially) polymer chemistry during my years at Gannon, spent a summer at University of Akron after winning their Polymer Science Awards competition, and attended Virginia Tech where I studied polymer chemistry with Prof. James E. McGrath where I received my Ph.D. in 1985.  My graduate research involved the use of living anionic polymerization to synthesize methacrylate based-precision polymers (blocks, stars, interesting tacticities, etc.).  

I spent a tremendously fun post-doctoral year with Dr. Grant Willson at IBM Almaden (actually, San Jose Research, just prior to Almaden's opening).  Grant introduced me to the wonderful world of photoresists 30 years ago!  I still find that topic incredibly interesting.  The post-doc led to longer term employment in IBM Research where I have had jobs ranging from laboratory chemist to various management roles. 

I'm a Fellow of SPIE and the Polymer Division of the ACS, have won the ACS Division of Polymer Chemistry "Industrial Polymer Scientist Award" in 2014 and have been elected (in 2012) to the National Academy of Engineering. 

I lead a department of wildly innovative chemists and materials scientists here at IBM Almaden. We focus primarily on designing, building and understanding materials (mostly polymers) for high performance applications. Our approach to innovation is to combine experiment with computation--we see this as highly accelerating the creation process.  We work on enabling IBM's core technology through materials innovation.  Our work on lithography materials and low-k dielectric materials and processes typifies this focus.  

We have come to the realization that the skills gained through these pursuits can be leveraged to build materials for applications way beyond electronics.  We began to focus on IBM's Smarter Planet inititative about 6 years ago specifically in the areas of water, the environment, healthcare and energy. We have current research projects ranging from membranes for low energy desalination, antimicrobial surfaces to battle against infectious diseases, new catalytic processes for the creation and/or the recycling of high performance materials.  This great range of projects and applications are formed through a foundation of fundamental materials chemistry.  A very exciting place to work!

A particular focus of mine is collaboration.  We collaborate broadly with a focus on materials innovation leading to big opportunities.