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Durham University

Research

Soft Matter and Interfaces

Research concerns a diverse range of soft structures with dimensions ranging from the nano-to macroscale.

Research in the Soft Matter, Surfaces and Interfaces group concerns a diverse range of soft structures with dimensions ranging from the nano- to macroscale. A key aspect of the research is the preparation of well-defined molecules, materials, dispersions and surfaces, which leads to desired function. Modern synthetic methods are used to achieve such control and materials prepared are investigated using a suite of analytical methods, including surface spectroscopies, scanning probe and electron microscopies. Research on the fundamental physical chemistry of interfaces includes crystal nucleation, surface freezing, adsorption kinetics and ultrafast electron dynamics.

In parallel to this, advanced computer simulation methods are used to model soft materials, and new theories developed to describe and predict both structure and material properties. Advanced experimental techniques, in particular neutron and X-ray scattering and ion beam analysis (the latter is unique in a UK Chemistry Department), are used to verify the predictions.

The group is heavily engaged with the user community, through the Durham Centre for Soft Matter, Polymer IRC and spin-out companies, and has an excellent track record for commercializing its research when appropriate.

The leader of the Soft Matter & Interfaces Grouping is Dr Mark Miller.

Hover over the image to display the researchers name, click on the image to go to the staff page.
Hover over the image to display the researchers name, click on the image to go to the staff page.

Examples of current projects

  • Jonathan Steed "A supramolecular gel phase crystallisation strategy" with AstraZeneca
  • Mark Wilson "Molecular migration in complex matrices: Towards predictive design of structured products"
  • Mark Miller "Efficient prediction of partition coefficients from coarse-grained simulations" with Unilever
  • Lian Hutchings "Synthesis and characterisation of block copolymers designed to self-assemble in selective solvents for industrial applications" supported by Synthomer and Croda International
  • Sharon Cooper "Crystallization under confinement"
  • Ritu Kataky "Electrochemical and bioelectrochemical interactions at soft interfaces"

Selection of Recent Publications

  1. Lysis of membrane lipids promoted by small organic molecules: Reactivity depends on structure but not lipophilicity; HM Britt, AS Prakash, S Appleby, JA Mosely and JM Sanderson; Sci. Adv. 6 eaaz8598 (2020)
  2. Fire and Forget! One-Shot Synthesis and Characterization of Block-Like Statistical Terpolymers via Living Anionic Polymerization; LR Hutchings, PP Brooks, P Shaw and P Ross-Gardner; J. Polym. Sci. A 57 382–394 (2019)
  3. Braiding, branching and chiral amplification of nanofibres in supramolecular gels; CD Jones, HTD Simmons, KE Horner, K Liu, RL Thompson and JW Steed; Nature Chemistry 11 375–381 (2019)
  4. Assessing the transferability of common top-down and bottom-up coarse-grained molecular models for molecular mixtures; TD Potter, J Tasche and MR Wilson; Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 21 1912–1927 (2019)
  5. The Influence of Cholesterol on Melittin Lipidation in Neutral Membranes; HM Britt, JA Mosely and JM Sanderson; Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 21 631–640 (2018)
  6. Molecular Simulation Studies of Cyanine‚ÄźBased Chromonic Mesogens: Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking to Form Chiral Aggregates and the Formation of a Novel Lamellar Structure; R Thind, M Walker and MR Wilson, Adv. Theory Simul., 1 1800088 (2018)
  7. Combining Inkjet Printing with Emulsion Solvent Evaporation to Pattern Polymeric Particles; R Deng, L Yang and CD Bain, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 10 12317–12322 (2018)
  8. Nucleation of quartz under ambient conditions; P Buckley, N Hargreaves and SJ Cooper, Comm. Chem. 1, 49 (2018)
  9. Continuum percolation of polydisperse rods in quadrupole fields: Theory and simulations; S Finner, M Kotsev, MA Miller and P van der Schoot, J. Chem. Phys. 148 034903 (2018)
  10. Pharmaceutical polymorph control in a drug-mimetic supramolecular gel; JA Foster, KK Damodaran, A Maurin, GM Day, HPG Thompson, GJ Cameron, JC Bernal and JW Steed, Chem. Sci. 8, 78–84 (2017) [front cover].