Robert Middleton
L. Robert Middleton, Ph.D.
Senior Associate
Polymer Science & Materials Chemistry
Philadelphia

Dr. Middleton specializes in polymer characterization and property optimization. His experiences encompass polymer structure – property relationships including composites (inorganic fillers, nanocomposites and fiber composites), membranes, acid copolymers and ionomers, and polymerized ionic liquids. Dr. Middleton has broad knowledge of polymer physics and materials characterization, which have allowed him to support product development efforts from conceptualization and materials selection to design performance and scale-up.

Dr. Middleton has extensive experience in multiple characterization techniques including (1) thermal analysis [differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA)], (2) dynamic analysis [dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), thermomechanical analysis (TMA) and broadband dielectric spectroscopy (BDS)], (3) structural analysis [scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), optical microscopy, X-ray scattering (SAXS/IAXS/WAXS in transmission, grazing, time- and temperature-resolved), neutron scattering (transmission, quasi-elastic)], and (4) bulk mechanical properties with ASTM methods. He also has experience in polymer processing methods including calendaring, rolling, fiber spinning, extrusion, and solution processing.

Prior to joining Exponent, Dr. Middleton received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focused on correlating nano-scale aggregate morphologies of acid copolymers and ionomers to bulk mechanical, dynamic, and conductive properties. During his undergraduate studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute he constructed and tested polymer composites properties (carbon fiber-epoxy composites for aerospace applications and polymer-graphite composites through supercritical CO2 fluid processing). Dr. Middleton’s industrial experience includes several positions in R&D, manufacturing, and product development groups. As a coating process engineer at Janos Technologies he assisted in manufacturing diamond-like carbon coatings, infrared lenses and filters utilizing chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Similarly, he optimized dielectric breakdown performance of imbibed nanocomposite membranes at W. L. Gore & Associates. At Garlock Sealing Technologies, Dr. Middleton helped bring to market a PTFE-based gasket through conducting formulation trials, prototyping, testing, and scaling-up through a design of experiments.

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, 2016
  • M.S.E., Materials Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
  • B.S., Materials Science and Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2010
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Program (EAPSI) Fellowship Award 2015

    W. L. Gore & Associates Fellowship Award 2015

    Outstanding Service Award, Janos Technologies 2010

    Scott Mackay Material Science Award 2010

    Alpha Sigma Mu, Materials Science and Engineering Honor Society 2009

    The RPI Founder's Award of Excellence 2008

LANGUAGES

  • Japanese

Publications

Middleton LR, Tarver JD, Cordaro J, Tyagi M, Soles CL, Frischknecht AL, Winey K. Heterogeneous chain dynamics and aggregate lifetimes in precise acid-containing polyethylenes: Experiments and simulations. Macromolecules 2016; November 10, 2016 Article ASAP. COVER. DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.6b01918

Middleton LR, Trigg EB, Schwartz E, Opper KL, Baughman TW, Wagener KB, Winey K. Role of periodicity and acid chemistry on the morphological evolution and strength in precise polyethylenes. Macromolecules 2016; 49(21):8209–8218.

Griffin PJ, Bocharova V, Middleton LR, Clarke N, Composto RJ, Winey K. Nanoparticle diffusion in polymer nanocomposites exhibiting attractive polymer-particle ‘interactions: Role of the bound layer. Macro Letters 2016; (5)1141-1145.

Middleton LR, Szewczyk S, Azoulay J, Murtagh D, Cordaro J, Winey K. Hierarchical acid aggregate morphology imparts strain-hardening mechanism in precise acid copolymers. Macromolecules 2015; (11)3713-3724.

Choi U, Middleton LR, Soccio M, Buitrago C, Aitken B, Masser H, Wagener K, Winey K, Runt J. Dynamics of precise ethylene ionomers containing ionic liquid functionality. Macromolecules 2015; (2)410-420.

Presentations

Middleton LR, Winey K. Tensile strengthening effects through precision placement of H-bonding side groups in polyethylenes. Podium American Chemical Society, Philadelphia, PA, August 2016.

Middleton LR, Winey K. Role of acid functionality and placement on morphological evolution and strengthening of acid copolymers. Podium Penn Polymer Symposium June 2016.

Middleton LR, Schwartz E, Winey K. Role of acid functionality and placement on morph. evolution and strengthening of acid copolymers. Podium American Physical Society, March 2016.

Middleton LR, Szewczyk S, Schwartz E, Azoulay J, Murtagh D, Cordaro J, Winey K. Tensile deformation and morphological evolution of precise acid copolymers. Podium American Physical Society, March 2015.

Middleton LR, et al. Effects of acid and ionic aggregation on the polymer dynamics in precise ionomers. Poster, American Physical Society, March 2015.

Middleton LR, et al. How ionic-incorporation affects polymer dynamics at the nanoscale. Poster, Gordon Research Conference on Polymer Physics, July 2014.

Middleton LR, Tarver J, J. Kim, Azoulay J, Murtagh D, Cordaro J, Tyagi M, Soles C, Winey K. Effects of acid and ionic aggregation on the polymer dynamics in precise ionomers. Podium, American Conference on Neutron Scattering, June 2014.

Middleton LR, et al. How does ionic incorporation affect polymer dynamics at the nanoscale?. Poster, Annual Penn Polymer Program Symposium, June 2014.

Middleton LR, et al. Plastic deformation and morphology evolution in precise acid copolymers. Podium, American Physical Society, March 2014.

Middleton LR, et al. The morphology evolution and mechanical properties of precise acid copolymers. Poster, Annual Penn Polymer Program Symposium, June 2013.

Middleton LR, et al. Melt state morphology evolution in precise acid copolymers as a function of strain. Poster American Physical Society, March 2013.

Middleton LR. Diamond-like carbon coating adhesion failures- identification of issue and solution. Janos Technologies, 2010.

Middleton LR, Barret L. (1) Interfacial failures in permeated membrane polymer nanocomposites- dielectric breakdown and mechanical instabilities. (2) A new thin film failure characterization method. W. L Gore and Associates, 2009.

Middleton LR. Small-scale Test Mimics Production Line- Capillary Rheometer Measurements To Optimize Processing Conditions In Pre-Production Tests. Garlock Sealing Technologies, 2008.

Prior Experience

Graduate Research Assistant, University of Pennsylvania 2011-2016

NSF EAPSI Research Fellow, University of Hokkaido Japan, 2015

Thin Film Coating Process Engineer, Janos Technologies 2010

Research and Development Intern, W. L. Gore and Associates 2009

Product Development Co-op, Garlock Sealing Technologies, 2008

Undergraduate Researcher, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2007-2010

Professional Affiliations

Society of Plastics Engineers

American Physical Society

American Chemical Society

News & Events

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, 2016
  • M.S.E., Materials Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
  • B.S., Materials Science and Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2010
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Program (EAPSI) Fellowship Award 2015

    W. L. Gore & Associates Fellowship Award 2015

    Outstanding Service Award, Janos Technologies 2010

    Scott Mackay Material Science Award 2010

    Alpha Sigma Mu, Materials Science and Engineering Honor Society 2009

    The RPI Founder's Award of Excellence 2008

LANGUAGES

  • Japanese