University Researcher

Alex van Herk

Department / Institute
Built Environment


Alex van Herk worked in the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Department from 1985 till 2012 (2001-2009 as Director of Education) and has led the Polymer Engineering and Characterization group in the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences from 2012-2021 and in that period was also guest professor at the Dept. of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. From 2021 he is associated with the Depertament of the Built Environment. His research areas are emulsion polymerization, water-based coatings, controlled release systems, anti-fouling surfaces and polymer reaction engineering. 
In Van Herk’s research the use of free and controlled radical polymerization in homogenous and heterogeneous systems is central. Understanding the polymerization processes on a molecular level and translating them to macroscopic phenomena and practical aspects of the process is currently one of the main topics.  

Van Herk has led an industrial consortium, the Foundation Emulsion Polymerization (SEP), for 18 years. Currently he is leading an IUPAC working group on copolymerization.

Currently he is associated with the Department of the Built Environment on building materials (coatings, insulation materials, cement etc). Furthermore he is conducting trainings for industry worldwide in the area of emulsion polymerization and coatings technology.

The possibilities of nanomaterials are tremendous and far from fully explored. The practical relevance is growing in the areas of functional coatings, personal care products and controlled release systems and industry is rapidly adopting nanotechnology.


Alex van Herk obtained his MSc in Inorganic and Polymer Chemistry at Free University Amsterdam and earned his PhD in 1986 under supervision of Prof. Sybe Balt. He was guest professor at the University of Gottingen and the University of Sydney. In 1985 he was appointed Assistant Professor at TU/e (department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering). He became full professor in 2001. Since November 2012, Van Herk has worked as Visiting and later Guest Professor at TU/e, while leading a 50 staff Polymer group in Singapore, Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, one of the A*Star institutes.

Since 2021 he is associated with the Department of the Built Environment.

Ancillary Activities

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