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Below is a list of some of the research conducted in our group, with links to more information on each topic.

Research Themes

Surface-Adsorbed Micelles

Surface-adsorbed micelles can be turned inside-out by switching the solution pH, leading to the formation of localised polymer brushes.

Surface Polymerisations via ATRP

Cationic macro-initiators have been designed to adsorb onto both colloidal and planar substrates in order to carry out surface polymerisations of various hydrophilic methacrylates via ATRP.

Shell Cross-Linked Micelles

We have been working on the synthesis of shell cross-linked (SCL) micelles since 1998. These nanoparticles are more robust than conventional polymer micelles: covalent stabilisation allows SCL micelles to exist at infinite dilution, whereas normal micelles dissociate below their critical micelle concentration (CMC).

Organic/Inorganic Hybrid Nanocomposite Particles

A range of colloidal polymer-silica nanocomposites can be formed by carrying out the in situ (co)polymerisation of various vinyl monomers in the presence of an ultrafine silica sol.

Sterically-Stabilised pH-Responsive Microgels

In a project sponsored by Rohm and Haas (France), several classes of sterically-stabilised pH-responsive microgel particles have been prepared via emulsion polymerisation.

One-Pot Synthesis and Self-assembly of Amphiphilic Block Copolymers

Reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer polymerization has been utilized to polymerize 2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate (HPMA) using a water-soluble macromolecular chain transfer agent. Formation of the hydrophobic PHPMA block drives in situ self-assembly to form well-defined diblock copolymer spheres, worms, or vesicles.

Stimuli Responsive Colloidal Particles as Particulate Emulsifiers

With the aid of a joint EPSRC grant with Prof. B. P. Binks at U. Hull, we have designed, synthesised and evaluated several new classes of so-called 'Pickering' emulsifiers for the preparation of emulsions.

Controlled-Structure Water-Soluble Polymers

We have recently developed the use of atom transfer radical polymerisation (ATRP) in aqueous or alcoholic media for the controlled radical polymerisation of a wide range of hydrophilic methacrylates.

Conducting Polymer-Coated Latexes

Various conducting polymers can be deposited as an ultrathin overlayer onto pre-formed polystyrene latex particles in aqueous solution.

Other Collaborations

In addition to the named collaborators in the above research themes, we have a number of fruitful informal collaborations with various research groups worldwide.

Branched Polymers via Living Polymerisation Chemistry

We have recently explored the 'Sherrington' approach to branched copolymers in the context of living polymerisation chemistry. Fundamental differences between living and non-living polymerisations have been identified.

Block Copolymer Micelles, 'Schizophrenic' Diblock Copolymers and Novel Polymeric Surfactants

Since 1996 we have synthesised a wide range of hydrophilic-hydrophilic diblock copolymers using various chemistries (group transfer polymerisation, living cationic polymerisation; nitroxide-mediated polymerisation and atom transfer radical polymerisation).

Controlled-Structure Biocompatible Block Copolymers

With the aid of a joint BBSRC grant with Prof. A. W. Lloyds' group at the University of Brighton, and in collaboration with Biocompatibles, a UK-based healthcare company, we have exploited ATRP to prepare new biocompatible block copolymers using a commercially available, phosphorylcholine-based biomimetic monomer, MPC.
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