Richard A. Register

Director, Princeton Materials Institute
Eugene Higgins Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Office Phone
A423 Engineering Quad

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1989

M.S.C.E.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1985

S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1984

S.B., Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1983


Honors and Awards

  • Inaugural Distinguished Service Award, Princeton School of Engineering and Applied Science, 2023
  • Distinguished Teacher Award, Princeton School of Engineering and Applied Science, 2018
  • Fellow, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2014
  • Fellow, American Chemical Society, 2012
  • Graduate Mentoring Award, Princeton University, 2008
  • Charles M.A. Stine Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2002
  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 2001
  • Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation, 1992
  • Unilever Award, American Chemical Society, 1992


  • Director, Princeton Materials Institute
  • Executive Committee and Associated Faculty, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

Research Interests

The design of materials with a desired set of properties is an age-old endeavor, yet one in which new challenges emerge with each new application one can envision. Polymers pervade all areas of technology, from medicine to electronics to energy production. Most polymeric materials introduced into commerce today contain multiple components or phases, with supramolecular structures ranging from nanometers to microns. Such materials offer the potential for synergistic property combinations, but the myriad ways in which monomer units can be combined (random, gradient, or block copolymers) coupled with a diversity of potential macromolecular architectures (linear, branched, or star) makes tapping this potential a true challenge. By elucidating the connections between materials synthesis, processing, morphology, and physical properties, our work aims to provide key ideas in the design of materials with tailored property sets, and to show how these materials may be applied in new or existing technologies.

We have active in-house programs in polymer synthesis (typically by living polymerizations, including anionic, ring-opening metathesis, and vinyl addition); solid-state structural characterization by x-ray scattering (SAXS and WAXS) and high-resolution microscopy techniques (SEM, TEM, AFM); and physical property measurement (mechanical, rheological, permeation, etc.). Example current and recent projects include: elucidation of the mixing thermodynamics of hydrocarbon polymers, as a way to enhance the mechanical properties of plastics and the gas barrier properties of rubbers; the synthesis of new block, gradient, and random copolymers with exceptional performance in the recovery of butanol from dilute aqueous solution (like fermentation broth in biofuel production); mapping the local glass transition temperature (Tg) as a function of position throughout a nanostructured polymer; the use of block copolymers as nanofabrication templates, including for wire-grid polarizers with >90% polarization efficiency at the 193 nm wavelength used in today’s most advanced production lithography; and the synthesis of new thermoplastic elastomers (melt-processable, recyclable rubbers) with an unprecedented combination of high solvent resistance, low modulus and low hysteresis, and easy melt processability. For more current and detailed project information, see the research group website.

Selected Publications
  1. M. Park, C. Harrison, P.M. Chaikin, R.A. Register, and D.H. Adamson, “Block Copolymer Lithography: Periodic Arrays of ~1011 Holes in 1 Square Centimeter”, Science, 276, 1401-1404 (1997).
  2. Y.-L. Loo, R.A. Register, and A.J. Ryan, “Modes of Crystallization in Block Copolymer Microdomains:  Breakout, Templated, and Confined”, Macromolecules, 35, 2365-2374 (2002).
  3. D.E. Angelescu, J.H. Waller, D.H. Adamson, P. Deshpande, S.Y. Chou, R.A. Register, and P.M. Chaikin, “Macroscopic Orientation of Block Copolymer Cylinders in Single-Layer Films by Shearing”, Adv. Mater., 16, 1736-1740 (2004).
  4. S. Li, R.A. Register, J.D. Weinhold, and B.G. Landes, “Melt and Solid-State Structure of Polydisperse Polyolefin Multiblock Copolymers”, Macromolecules, 45, 5773-5781 (2012).
  5. D.-G. Kim, T. Takigawa, T. Kashino, O. Burtovyy, A. Bell, and R.A. Register, “Hydroxyhexafluoroisopropylnorbornene Block and Random Copolymers via Vinyl Addition Polymerization and Their Application as Biobutanol Pervaporation Membranes”, Chem. Mater., 27, 6791−6801 (2015).