John F. Rabolt

Karl W. and Renate Böer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Department of Materials Science and Engineering

University of Delaware

201 DuPont Hall
Newark, DE 19716-3106

Phone: 302-831-4476
Fax: 302-831-4545

  • Ph.D., Molecular Physics (Chemical Physics), Southern Illinois University: 1974
    B.S., Physics, State University of New York: 1970

Research Overview:

Dr. Rabolt has spent the last 25 years investigating the relationship between the chemical architecture and shape of long chain organic molecules/polymers and their mechanical, electrical, optical and electronic properties. Along the way he has brought an understanding to how polymers can be made into conductive wires and how thin saran-wrap type films can be used to confine laser light in a narrow beam for telecommunications. Recently, his research group demonstrated how flat panel computer screen technology can be used to detect and identify DNA sequences visually through changes in color.

Another area of Dr. Rabolt’s research centers on the possibility of bringing polymers into the world of diagnostic medicine. He predicts the day when a computer chip the size of a piece of dust, or a tiny piece of plastic, can be swallowed and used to take diagnostic readings of what’s going on inside the body.

Before coming to the University of Delaware in 1996, Dr. Rabolt was a research staff member at the IBM Almaden Research Center, where he served as co-director of the NSF Center on Polymer Interfaces and Macromolecular Assemblies (a Stanford/IBM/University of California at Davis Materials Research Science and Engineering Center). During his career, Dr. Rabolt developed several laser-based analytical instruments and has been awarded three patents for optical-based microelectronic devices. He has authored or co-authored 175 research articles in peer-reviewed journals and is the recipient of several international awards in spectroscopy. Currently, Dr. Rabolt is an associate editor for Macromolecules, an American Chemical Society journal.