Our substantial expertise in the synthetic chemistry, characterisation and processing of polymers and colloids is used to tackle a broad range of real-world problems.

Masters students working in the Soft Matter Analytical Laboratory

We are interested in the sustainability of polymers & colloids, whether it be biodegradable materials for niche, speciality applications or durable polymers for high volume reuse and recycling. Minimising resource use in the whole life cycle drives our research programme.

Important analytical techniques include a suite of rheometry instruments small-angle, wide angle and grazing incidence X-ray scattering (SAXS, WAXS, GISAXS), optical and atomic force microscopy (AFM), thermogravimetry, aqueous electrophoresis, gel permeation chromatography (GPC), and various particle size analysis instruments, such as analytical centrifugation, dynamic light scattering and laser diffraction.

This cluster has a strongly interdisciplinary outward-facing ethos, as evidenced by many collaborations both with other academic disciplines (e.g. physics, biology and engineering) and industrial partners, including Unilever, Lubrizol, AkzoNobel, Ashland, Scott Bader, Syngenta, DSM, BASF, SC Johnson, BTG, GEO, Dow Chemicals, P&G, Aliaxis, Kingspan, G2O and Diamond Light Source.

Major themes

  • Polymer Synthesis and Characterisation - block copolymer self-assembly, water-soluble polymers, polymer nanoparticles and latexes, polymeric biomaterials, (semi) conducting polymers, porous polymers.
  • Colloid & Polymer Processing – polymer and colloid crystallisation, soft matter, self-assembly processes, Pickering (nano)emulsions, polyurethane foams.
  • Applications of Polymers and Colloids – packaging materials, reuse and recycling, formulations in skin, hair and dental care, polymers for agriculture, therapeutics, adhesives, and energy.


For further information about Polymers at Sheffield please see the staff page of individual researchers below:

Professor Anthony J. Ryan, OBE

Dr Robert Dawson

Professor Steven P. Armes, FRS

Dr Ahmed Iraqi

Dr Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk

Prof. Andrew Slark

Dr Sebastian Spain

Members of other research clusters active in polymers:

Dr Jonathan A. Foster

Professor Graham Leggett

Dr Lance Twyman

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.