Robert Burford

Emeritus Professor
Chemical Engineering
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 4308
+61 2 9385 5966

Professor Burford  has studied the relationship between structure and properties in both thermoplastics and elastomers for over 25 years, leading to awards from both the RACI Polymer Division (Citation, 1992) and the APRI (Jim Smithson medal awarded at IRC 2000). His particular interests include the development of new membranes including conducting polymer-coated micro-filtration membranes with a CRC, the mechanisms of reinforcement in blends, and the formation and characterisation of interpenetrating polymer networks. This has recently led to TEM, SAXS and SANS studies of IPNs both in Australia and overseas.

Over the past 5 years he has been a project leader with the CRC for Polymers and has developed improved polymer compositions for new cables, leading to a CRC Chairman's Award (2003) and a CRC-A Innovation award (2004). He led the CRC-P team that won the Business Higher Education Roundtable Innovation Award in 2004. He is a co-inventor of about 8 patents relating to fire performance materials.

Professor Burford is now a program leader in the current CRC for Polymers. His recent research interests include polymer reaction engineering (suspension and sedimentation polymerisation), and inorganic-organic hybrid materials both in bulk and thin layer formats. The latter has lead to new nanocomposites of organic polymers with titania, and the use of atomic layer deposition for surface modification. He continues to have an interest in the tailoring of polymers and related materials at the nanometer and micron scale, failure/performance aspects and the manufacture of new classes of polymers.

Professor Burford has been an editor of several journals including the Journal of Applied Polymer Science and referees for many others. He has supervised ~20 PhD students to completion and has published over 170 international journal articles in polymer science including rubber chemistry and physics. He is a Chief Investigator for ARC Discovery Grants and is an ARC OZ-reader. He has given invited lectures in over 15 countries, most recently in Ireland, Germany and Canada.

Professor Burford has been a judge for the advanced materials section of the Du Pont innovations awards. He is the UNSW Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering Councillor and has been a member of the Bragg Institute Board. He Chairs the Treloar Prize panel for oral papers from young researcher's at the Australasian Polymer Symposia.

As Research Associate Dean, Engineering, Professor Burford initiated collaborative grants between the UNSW Kensington campus and ADFA in Canberra. He leads a School with degree programs ranging from Chemical and Process Engineering through to Industrial Chemistry to Food Science and Engineering. His professional interests include petrochemical processing, materials formation and control at the nm-micron scale, biotechnology and renewable resources. He also teaches business management and has a strong industry focus via the Co-op scholar program where he is a co-ordinator. He has teaching and research collaborations with materials scientists, physicists and chemists.

Professor Burford has consulted widely with polymer related industries both in Australia and overseas. He has completed over 200 reports relating to many areas of polymer science and engineering. Areas of activity include:

   1. Failure analysis
   2. Polymer compound analysis
   3. Adhesion
   4. Mechanical behaviour
   5. Interaction of polymers with various environments
   6. Suitability of polymers for applications
   7. Engineering of elastomers
   8. Rubber failure