Robert J. Flatt is Professor for Physical Chemistry of Building Materials at ETH Zürich since 2010. Before that he was Principal Scientist at Sika Technology AG for 8.5 years and postdoctoral researcher at the Princeton University for 2.5 years. He has a master in Chemical Engineering and a PhD from EPFL (Switzerland).
One of his main research interests is grey matter … not the one we think with … but the one we live in, drive on or through. This concerns cementitious materials and in particular concrete, which worldwide is by far the most used man-made material. A focal topic is the working mechanisms of chemical admixtures, which can be considered as the “spices” of concrete since they have major effects even when added in very small amounts. On this front he is laying the scientific basic for the molecular design of chemical admixtures to achieve targeted improvements of macroscopic properties, in particular for reducing the environmental footprint of concrete.
Apart from this, Robert has a long lasting interest in materials science for the preservation of cultural heritage. In this area, he is concerned with understanding how damage occurs to design better preventive measures and repair materials.
Robert received various awards among which the Robert L’Hermite Medal from RILEM, the Ross C. Purdy and the Brunauer awards from The American Ceramic Society, an Outstanding Research Contribution in the Broad Area of Chemical Admixtures, the Sandmeyer Award for industrial and applied chemistry from the Swiss Chemical Society and two prizes from the First International Conference on Concrete Innovation. Recently he also co-edited the book “Science and Technology of Concrete Admixtures” with Prof. Pierre-Claude Aïticn.