Bob Allen

Bob Allen


Research Activity per Year


Personal Profile

Robert Allen joined NREL to focus on sustainable polymers and composites for the future circular economy. He was department head of Polymer Science and Technology at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, where he spent 35 years as an industrial polymer chemist and research leader. While at IBM, he developed a chemical recycling process called the VolCat process, a catalyzed glycolysis depolymerization of PET and other polyesters for the production of high-quality monomer from low quality mixed waste plastics. The process uses a volatile organic catalyst, which enables simplified downstream processing. IBM is working with partners to commercialize this process.

For much of his career at IBM Research, Allen was focused on inventing polymers for semiconductor patterning. He led IBM in the quest to achieve industry-leading lithography performance in 193nm photoresist technology. As such, IBM was able to manufacture its chips using this new technology before its competitors. His polymer designs for several generations of 193nm (dry and water immersion) lithography were commercialized through partnerships with chemical companies and are used today worldwide for the patterning of semiconductor chips.

Professional Experience

IBM Research

Master Inventor
Distinguished Researcher
Senior Manager, Chemical and Polymer Research Department, Almaden
Manager, Almaden Lithography Research Group
Research Team Lead, 193nm Photoresists

Education/Academic Qualification

Bachelor, Chemistry, Gannon College

PhD, Polymer Chemistry, Virginia Tech


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