Polymer chemistry


The use of polymers is ubiquitous in modern society, providing the chemical basis of many of the objects we use daily. These macromolecular materials can for example be found in household goods, in clothing and toys, in construction materials and insulation. Both synthetic polymers and biopolymers are known, the latter being accessed from living organisms. Synthetic polymers, commonly referred to as plastics, and rubbers, can be manufactured on large scale by the controlled assembly of smaller molecules known as monomers. Polymer chemistry can also be included in the broader fields of polymer science or nanotechnology. 

Within the polymer chemistry theme, we are interested in the synthesis, structure, chemical and physical properties of polymers. A variety of renewable and non-renewable monomer types are exploited as the building blocks to form a range of polymeric materials. The mechanical properties of these materials are evaluated using a raft of different techniques to assess their suitability for a given application. We are also interested in engineering nano-scale materials made up of synthetic polymers to deliver therapeutics to their site(s) of action. 

Some notable areas of current interest are:  

  • Using ethylene as the sole feedstock to make polyethylene elastomers. 
  • Influencing polymer molecular weight through ligand control of a metal catalyst. 
  • Exploring late transition metal catalyst effects on polymer branching in thermoplastics. 
  • Ring-opening polymerisation of cyclic esters to make biodegradable polyesters (e.g. PLA and PCL). 
  • Drug delivery using nanoparticles comprising of biocompatible and biodegradable polymers.

Selected Publications

  • "A reactive oxygen species-generating, cancer stem cell-potent manganese(II) complex and its encapsulation into polymeric nanoparticles", A. Eskandari and K. Suntharalingam, Chem. Sci., 2019, 10, 7792-7800. DOI:10.1039/C9SC01275C.
  • "Elastomeric polyethylenes accessible via ethylene homo-polymerization using an unsymmetrical α-diimino-nickel catalyst", X. Wang, L. Fan, Y. Ma, C.-Y. Guo, G. A. Solan, Y. Sun, W.-H. Sun, Polym. Chem., 2017, 8, 2785-2795. DOI:10.1039/c7py00434f.
  • "Ultra-high molecular weight elastomeric polyethylene using an electronically and sterically enhanced nickel catalyst", Q. Mahmood, Y. Zeng, E. Yue, G. A. Solan, T. Liang and W.-H. Sun, Polym. Chem., 2017, 8, 6416-6430. DOI:10.1039/C7PY01606A.
  • "Synthesis and characterization of solid polymethylaluminoxane; a bifunctional activator and support for slurry-phase ethylene polymerization", A. F. R. Kilpatrick, J.-C. Buffet, S. Sripothongnak, P. Nørby, N. P. Funnell and D. O’Hare, Chem. Mater., 2016, 28, 7444-7450. DOI:10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b03009.