Robert Young is renowned for research on the relationships between the structure and mechanical properties of polymers and composites. A particular focus of his work has been the study of how materials such as carbon fibres and spider silk deform at the molecular level. Robert has now extended his research to include carbon-fibre composites, carbon nanotubes and the deformation of graphene — a one-atom thick sheet of carbon.
In his research, Robert made pioneering use of Raman spectroscopy. In this technique, laser light is shone onto a material and the wavelength and intensity of the resulting scattered light is measured and analysed. The changes in the light relate to changes in bond length between the atoms of the molecules in the material when the material is deformed.
Robert received the 2011 Leslie Holliday Prize and the 2012 Swinburne Medal from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, and delivered the Swinburne Lecture in 2013. He has published over 330 research papers and is also the author of a number of textbooks on polymers.
Professor of Polymer Science and Technology, National Graphene Institute, University of Manchester