Soft matter research within the department deals with a vast array of macromolecules, from their synthesis to their interactions at a microscopic level.
Soft materials, man made and naturally occurring, are ubiquitous in our everyday lives. Their benefits lie in the possibility of controlling their properties by engineering their composition, architecture and functionality. We achieve this by developing novel synthetic methods, studying their assembly and interactions on a molecular level and thus identifying potential applications. Some key examples include: controlled synthesis of stimuli responsive polymers for imaging and sensing applications; functionalised polyesters for improved wound dressings; nanocomposite coatings with antibacterial properties; assessing the environmental impact of degradable plastics.
Activities we address include but are not limited to:
- Polymers for aqueous viscosity modification
- Polymeric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) agents
- Self-assembly of functional polymers in solution and in bulk
- Block copolymers for compatibilisation of blends
- Catalyst/co-catalyst design for controlled synthesis of polyolefins and polyesters
- Development of supported catalysts for in-situ polymerisation to form composites
- Characterisation of molecular architecture using various scattering and spectroscopic techniques
- Synthesis of hydrogels for targeted appications
- Polymers from renewable resources
- Introduction of functional fillers to modify material properties
- Biodegradable polymers, polymer weathering and degradation
- Surface polymerisation and thin films
- Interfacial adhesion enhancement and adhesion failure
- Self-assembly of polymer colloids and nanocomposites
- Polymers with tuneable wettability and adhesion
More about us
Disentangled Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene
Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene, having molar mass greater than a million g/mol is an engineering polymer that is used for demanding applications ranging from body armour to the replacement of hip- and knee-joints. The chain-of-knowledge approach of our research, that combines chemistry with physics, rheology and processing, has allowed to develop a unique polymer that could be processed, solvent-free, to make tapes and films of unprecedented tensile modulus and strength. The process is commercially and environmentally attractive and has been developed further by the company Teijin Aramid, NL.
Structured Antibacterial Coatings
As a paint coating dries out, it is possible to control the distribution of tiny particles that are dispersed in it and select which ones will end up at the top surface. By choosing the appropriate type of these small particles, it is possible to confer a certain functionality to the coating surface. We are currently exploiting this effect to design and fabricate coatings with reduced adhesion and bactericidal capability.
The technology has attracted interest from several of the most relevant companies in the paints and coatings sector and we are working with them to develop new products and applications.