Polymers, Materials, and Surfaces Cluster
We have substantial expertise in synthetic polymer chemistry, including living radical polymerisation chemistries such as ATRP and RAFT. One major theme is the synthesis and aqueous solution characterisation of controlled-structure stimulus-responsive polymers based on hydrophilic methacrylic monomers for a wide range of applications.
There is also considerable activity in the field of polymer colloids, including the design of novel latexes, microgels, colloidal nanocomposites and Pickering emulsifiers. Examples of novel polymeric biomaterials include the self-assembly of biocompatible block copolymers to form micelles, vesicles or gels and the design of novel fluorescent polymeric sensors for bacteria. Several research groups are working in the area of branched copolymers and dendrimers and we also have a great deal of experience of characterising block copolymer self-assembly, particularly via scattering techniques.
A range of novel organic conducting polymers are being developed for various polymer LED and solar cell applications. Other examples of polymeric materials include cellulosic biopolymers and polyurethanes. We have a large inter-disciplinary research programme in surface science that seeks to combine nano-scale surface patterning, polymer brushes and the development of imaging and analytical techniques (e.g. nanotribology and friction force measurements) in order to develop nanotechnology applications.
Much of our research involves a wide range of industrial partners, including blue chip companies such as Unilever, P & G, Reckitt Benckiser, BP, AkzoNobel and DSM.