Gelest Founder Barry Arkles Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Dr. Barry Arkles, Gelest Inc. chair, founder and CEO, has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Arkles is recognized for his “contributions to organosilicon materials and organometallic and biochemical reagents.”

Arkles contributed scientific advances and inventions with positive impacts extending beyond the professional community to the global public. His record of innovation and accomplishments in applied materials science, surface chemistry and biotechnology is demonstrated by his contributions to medical devices, such as contact lenses, and semiconductor fabrication, particularly ILD (interlayer dielectrics) and interconnect metallization.

NAE membership recognizes outstanding individuals who have contributed to “engineering research, practice, or education, including … significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

“Dr. Arkles’s election to NAE membership recognizes the value of the characteristic hybrid chemicals technology he and Gelest have cultivated,” said Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) President and CEO Masayuki Waga. “We are proud of his achievement.”

Waga added that Gelest’s technology, led by Arkles, combines organic and inorganic chemistry and has great potential as an approach to various problems that could not be solved by organic or inorganic chemistry alone. He said he expects to grow Gelest’s technology by combining it with MCC’s specialty technology related to organic chemistry.

“Barry Arkles is a very rare combination of technical excellence, entrepreneurial acumen and research management expertise which was evident early in his career and has continued to date,” said Dr. Robert D. Miller, Academy member, IBM emeritus at IBM Almaden Research Center and adjunct professor of material science and engineering at Stanford University. “Companies either founded or co-founded by Arkles currently generate nearly $1B in revenue. In each of his ventures, he has remained the technical face of the business with more than 150 technical publications and more than 75 U.S. patents. The marriage of broad technical expertise and business impact is refreshing and is uncommon in today’s world of specialization.”

Arkles said without question, election into the Academy is one of the greatest honors of his life. “Election to Academy membership validates my life’s work and the collective mission of Gelest and now MCC scientists to customize materials solutions that benefit society at large,” he said.

Arkles formed Gelest Inc. in 1991 to develop and manufacture silicon and metal-organic based chemicals and polymers for applications in microelectronics, optoelectronics, diagnostics (including DNA array devices), medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Prior to launching Gelest, he was vice president of corporate development at Hüls America / Evonik. Dr. Arkles came to Hüls with the company’s acquisition of Petrarch Systems, a company he founded to develop advanced silicon and silicone products for medical devices. Early in his career at LNP Engineering Plastics (now part of SABIC) he was manager of advanced development of thermoplastic composites, a materials technology introduced into many consumer items, including cameras and photographic equipment, tool and appliance housings, and sports equipment. Examples included Polaroid Cameras, Black & Decker drills and Wilson racquetball rackets, among many others.

Arkles is a recipient of the American Chemical Society 2020 Frederic Stanley Kipping Award in Silicon Chemistry and a Fellow of the British Royal Society of Chemistry. He holds a B.S. in chemistry and Ph.D. in biochemistry at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Arkles is one of 106 newly elected NAE members and 23 international members. The recent election brings the total U.S. membership to 2,355 and international membership to 298.

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