Paper Surface Science Graduate Program


The objective of the Paper Surface Science Program at the University of Maine is to train graduate students in performing scientific research on projects of value to the sponsoring industries.

The program seeks to develop fundamental and applied knowledge about paper surface treatment processes (sizing, coating, printing, gluing…) and structure-performance relationships in the products. Recent activity is looking at how to replace single use packaging with sustainable cellulose based packaging.


The research is performed by graduate students (MSc. and Ph.D.), postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists under the guidance of the faculty. Some projects are carried out with scientists from sponsoring companies.

The research program covers paper surface treatment from the process to the product. It is centered around two main areas:

Paper making equipment

1. Fluid-Paper Interactions in Surface Treatments

Current projects include investigations of the rheology of coating and cellulose nanofiber suspensions,  modeling of the setting of adhesives on paper, interactions between coating and basestock, and the barrier properties of water borne coatings.  The physics of the coating process, including the porous nature of paper are included in models that help in the operation and design of equipment.  The penetration of coatings into the porous paper is often a key factor in the effectiveness and quality of the product.  

2. Physics and Chemistry of Paper Surfaces

Projects in this area investigate the mechanisms involved in the development of the porous structure of pigmented coatings during drying; the relationships between bulk and surface structural characteristics and optical properties of gloss and light-scattering; the processes of wetting and spreading of latexes on pigment and cellulosic surface; the factors determining adhesion and cohesion in coated papers; the influence of pigmentation and of the type of binder on the surface chemistry and the surface energy of pigmented coatings.

New projects will attempt to characterize the heat transfer in paper to help with understanding of the heat sealability of the system.


Each company appoints a member to the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board meets once a year to review the overall research program and set directions for new projects. An annual report is distributed at that time to each advisory board member.

In addition, a workshop is organized in the Fall and Spring to give the Board members, their company associates and the graduate students, an opportunity for in-depth discussion of each research project.


Through their input in the Advisory Board, companies have the opportunity to:

– Interact with graduate students as prospects for potential employment.

– Influence the direction of the research by helping define priorities and specific projects.

– Review, semi-annually, all PSSP projects. This review often gives industrial representatives new ideas for their companies.

– Interact with scientists from other sponsoring companies.

– Preview all PSSP publications prior to submission to journals and conferences. This preview assures sponsors of receiving the technical information well before general publication.

– Receive free copies of software developed and first-hand look at new testing methods.

– Make joint publications with graduate students and faculty.

– Recognition of support at conference presentations.

– Have priority access to researchers, laboratory and pilot plant equipment used in the program, for use in proprietary projects at half the normal fee.

The Paper Surface Science Program is an academic community focused on paper coating, sizing and printing.  The program is directly by Prof. Doug Bousfield and involves faculty and students in other academic programs. 

The University of Maine Foundation is an independent, non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Established in 1934, the Foundation exists to encourage gifts and bequests to nurture academic achievement, foster research and elevate intellectual pursuit at the University of Maine.