Steve ArmesProf. Steven P. Armes, FRS

Professor of Polymer and Colloid Chemistry

Room: D42A

Tel: +44-(0)114-22-29342

Fax: +44-(0)114-22-29346



Biographical Sketch

Prof. Steve Armes obtained his BSc in Chemistry from the University of Bristol in 1983, which was followed by a PhD from the same institution in 1987. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico (1987-89), he became a lecturer at Sussex University in 1989. After being promoted to Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor in Polymer Chemistry, he moved to Sheffield in 2004 to become Professor in Polymer and Colloid Chemistry. He is currently Director of the Sheffield Polymer Centre and Farapack Polymers, a University spin-out company. He was elected to be a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014.


Royal Society/Wolfson Research Merit Award 2005-2009. RSC Macro Group Medal for Polymer Science (2007). RSC Peter Day Award for Soft Matter Research (2010). RSC Tilden Medal (2013). Fellow of the Royal Society (2014). RSC Interdisciplinary Prize (2014). RSC/SCI Thomas Graham Lecture (2014).

Research Keywords

Water-soluble polymers, block copolymers, living radical polymerisation (e.g. RAFT and ATRP), polymerisation-induced self-assembly, dispersion polymerisation, micellar self-assembly, block copolymer vesicles, biocompatible polymers, colloidal nanocomposite particles, conducting polymers, stimulus-responsive microgels, polymer-based `Pickering´ emulsifiers.

Teaching Keywords

Polymer Chemistry, Colloid Chemistry, Chemistry and the World Around Us (Parts 1 and 2).

Selected Publications:

  • RAFT dispersion polymerization in non-polar solvents: facile production of block copolymer spheres, worms and vesicles in n-alkanes, Lee A. Fielding, Matthew J. Derry, Vincent Ladmiral, Julien Rosselgong, Aurelie M. Rodrigues, Liam P. D. Ratcliffe, Shinji Sugihara and Steven P. Armes, Chem Sci 2013, 4, 2081-2087.
  • Can polymersomes form colloidosomes? K. L. Thompson, R. Verber, P. Chambon and S. P. Armes, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2012, 134, 12450-12453.
  • Degree of intramolecular cyclization in soluble branched copolymers by 1H NMR spectroscopy, J. Rosselgong and S. P. Armes, Macromolecules, 2012, 45, 2731-2737.
  • Efficient synthesis of sterically-stabilized nano-objects via RAFT dispersion polymerization of benzyl methacrylate in alcoholic media, M. Semsarilar, E. R. Jones, A. Blanazs and S. P. Armes, Adv. Mater. 2012, 24, 3378-3382.
  • Sterilizable Gels from Thermoresponsive Block Copolymer Worms, Adam Blanazs, Robert Verber, Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk, Anthony J. Ryan, Jason Z. Heath, C. W. Ian Douglas and Steven P. Armes, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 9741-9748.
  • Predictive phase diagrams for polymerization-induced self-assembly of a diblock copolymer prepared using RAFT chemistry, A. Blanazs, A. J. Ryan and S. P. Armes, Macromolecules, 2012, 45, 5099-5107.
  • Time-resolved small-angle x-ray scattering studies of polymer-silica nanocomposite formation and silica redistribution, J. A. Balmer, O. O. Mykhaylyk, S. P. Armes, J. P. A. Fairclough, A. J. Ryan, J. Gummel, M. W. Murray, K. A. Murray and N. S. J. Williams, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133, 826-837.
  • Aqueous dispersion polymerisation: a new paradigm for in situ block copolymer self-assembly in concentrated solution, S. Sugihara, A. Blanazs, A. J. Ryan, S. P. Armes and A. L. Lewis, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133, 15707-15713.
  • Mechanistic insights for block copolymer morphologies: how do worms form vesicles? A. Blanazs, J. Madsen, A. J. Ryan, G. Battaglia and S. P. Armes, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133, 16581-16587.
  • An artificial biomineral formed by incorporation of copolymer micelles in calcite crystals, Yi-Yeoun Kim, Kathirvel Ganesan, Pengcheng Yang, Alexander N. Kulak, Shirly Borukhin, Sasha Pechook, Luis Ribeiro, Roland Kroeger, Stephen J. Eichhorn, Steven P. Armes, Boaz Pokroy and Fiona C. Meldrum, Nat Mater 2011, 10, 890-896. 
  • Polypyrrole nanoparticles: a potential optical coherence tomography contrast agent for cancer imaging, K. M. Au, Z. H. Lu, S. J. Matcher and S. P. Armes, Adv. Mater. 2011, 23, 5792-5795. 


TEM Image of block copolymer "worms"

Research Interests

Polymer Chemistry

We use living radical polymerisation techniques such as Reversible Addition-Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) and Atom Transfer Radical Polymerisation (ATRP) to synthesise a wide range of controlled-structure, methacrylate-based water-soluble polymers. Block copolymers and their micellar self-assembly in aqueous solution are of particular interest: we are currently exploring the principles of polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA) to prepare a range of diblock copolymer-based ‘nano-objects’ in concentrated aqueous solution. Depending on the precise diblock copolymer curvature, such ‘nano-objects’ can possess either spherical, worm-like (see TEM image opposite) or vesicular morphologies. We now are establishing fundamental design rules for the rational design of such ‘nano-objects’ and we seek to exploit our enhanced understanding in order to generalise this powerful PISA approach to produce robust, reproducible formulations for both polar and non-polar solvents, as well as water.

Colloid Chemistry

We prepare a broad range of microscopic conducting polymer-based particles, including conducting polymer-coated latexes, conducting polymer-silica nanocomposite particles and sterically-stabilised conducting polymer particles. Such particles are proving to be useful synthetic mimics for carbonaceous and silicate-based micro-meteorites: we collaborate informally with space scientists based in the UK, Germany and the USA to aid their interpretation of data collected during various space missions (e.g. Cassini and Stardust). Polypyrrole particles also have potential biomedical applications as contrast agents in optical coherence tomography. We have pioneered the use of ultrafine aqueous silica sols in order to prepare a range of vinyl polymer-silica nanocomposite particles. Film-forming nanocomposite compositions can be prepared using acrylic monomers, which enable the production of tough, transparent, scratch-resistant coatings. Other recent examples include the synthesis of novel sterically-stabilised pH-responsive microgels, surface polymerisation of stimulus-responsive polymer brushes from planar surfaces and the evaluation of various latexes, microgels and nanocomposite particles as `Pickering´ emulsifiers for the production of both oil-in-water emulsions and also covalently cross-linked colloidosomes.

Teaching Section

Physical Chemistry

Undergraduate Courses Taught

  • Paint Technology and Laundry Science (Year 1)
    The aim of this segment is to understand and appreciate the underlying chemistry and principles of paint technology and laundry formulations.
  • Hair Products, Sunscreens and Cosmetics (Year 1)
    This course is designed to improve your scientific knowledge and understanding of: Various hair products (dyes, shampoos, conditioners etc); Sunscreen formulations; Skincare products; Assorted cosmetics (nail varnish, lipstick, mascara, perfume etc.).
  • Chocolate (Year 1)
    The aims of this segment are: (1) to gain a better understanding of the importance of processing in the industrial manufacture of ice cream chocolate and paper and (2) to appreciate some of the 'anomalous' properties of water.
  • Fundamentals of Polymer Science (Year 3 & 4)
    This course forms an introduction to polymer science, including topics such as: nomenclature; molecular weight; solid-state properties; different types of polymerisation.
  • Colloid Science (Year 3) This course is an introduction to colloid science, covering topics such as: classification of colloids; particle size analysis; adsorption of amphiphilic molecules at the air/water interface; emulsions and microemulsions.

Postgraduate Courses Taught

  • Fundamental Polymer Chemistry
    This course forms an introduction to polymer science for post-graduate students, including topics such as: nomenclature; molecular weight; solid-state properties; different types of polymerisation.

Tutorial & Workshop Support

  • First Year Workshops.
  • Second Year Physical Chemistry Tutorials.
  • Third Year Workshops (Colloid Science, Fundamentals of Polymer Science).
  • Third Year Literature Review.

Laboratory Teaching

  • Third Year Advanced Physical Chemistry
  • Fourth Year Research Project

Journal articles


  • Cosgrove T, Wesley R, Joseph J, Mears S, Thompson L & Armes S (2003) Polymer complexes with sugars and surfactants: Bulk and interfacial systems, Self-Assembly (pp. 187-195)..
  • Armes SP & Liub S (2003) A brief review of schizophrenic block copolymers, Self-Assembly (pp. 260-266)..

Conference proceedings papers

  • Addison T, Cayre OJ, Biggs S, Armes SP & York D (2010) Multi-layer films of block copolymer micelles adsorbed to colloidal templates. PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY A-MATHEMATICAL PHYSICAL AND ENGINEERING SCIENCES, Vol. 368(1927) (pp 4293-4311). Univ Liverpool, Liverpool, ENGLAND, 2 September 2009 - 4 September 2009.
  • Burchell MJ, Foster NJ, Ormond-Prout J, Dupin D & Armes SP (2009) Extent of thermal ablation suffered by model organic microparticles during aerogel capture at hypervelocities. METEORITICS & PLANETARY SCIENCE, Vol. 44(10) (pp 1407-1420). Timber Cove, CA, 26 October 2008 - 28 October 2008.
  • Fujii S, Weaver J, Yuanli C & Armes S (2006) Stimulus-responsive emulsion stabilized with shell cross-linked micelles. Polymer Preprints, Japan, Vol. 55(1) (pp 1128)
  • Fujii S, Read E, Binks B & Armes S (2006) Stimulus-responsive Pickering emulsion stabilized with microgel particles. Polymer Preprints, Japan, Vol. 55(1) (pp 1127)
  • Mu QS, Ma YH, Lewis AL, Armes SP & Lu JR (2004) Complexation of DNA with biocompatible diblock copolymers. Progress in Colloid and Polymer Science, Vol. 128 (pp 199-202)
  • Truelsen JH, Lei M, Kops J & Armes SP (2002) Block copolymers with pH-responsive poly(sodium 4-vinylbenzoate) synthesized by atom transfer radical polymerization. American Chemical Society, Polymer Preprints, Division of Polymer Chemistry, Vol. 43(2) (pp 257-258)
  • Truelsen JH, Hansen NML, Larsen D, Batsberg W, Armes SP & Kops J (2002) Novel polymeric surfactants synthesized by atom transfer radical polymerization. American Chemical Society, Polymer Preprints, Division of Polymer Chemistry, Vol. 43(2) (pp 49-50)
  • Chen X, Perruchot C & Armes SP (2002) Polyelectrolyte-g rafted silica particles prepared by surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization. American Chemical Society, Polymer Preprints, Division of Polymer Chemistry, Vol. 43(2) (pp 265-266)
  • Armes SP, Aldissi M, Hawley M, Beery JG & Gottesfeld S (1991) Scanning tunneling microscopy investigation of conducting polymers. Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering, Proceedings of the ACS Division of Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering, Vol. 64 (pp 175)
  • Armes SP & Aldissi M (1989) Synthesis of polymeric surfactants for the preparation of sterically-stabilized polyaniline colloids. Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering, Proceedings of the ACS Division of Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering, Vol. 60 (pp 751-756)