Ring-opening polymerisation of dioxolanones

Congrats to Yuechao and Mitch for their latest work on ROP of dioxolanones!

The paper builds on our previous work on the synthesis of poly(α-hydroxy acid)s where we found elimination of formaldehyde to be the favoured driving force. Here, the impact of a competing Tischchenko side reaction via the liberated formaldehyde was probed and found to lead to significant reductions in molecular weight. Polymerisation under dynamic vacuum reduces the tendency towards this side reaction through removal of formaldehyde, while use of a water jacketed reactor avoids loss of monomer. Crystalline poly(mandelic acid) was formed under these conditions, giving thermal properties competitive to that of polystyrene!

Morpholino Polymer Hydrogels as miRNA Sensors

Check our Gerry Langford’s new paper in ACS Sensors: It details our work in developing hydrogels with morpholino-based crosslinks that serve as sensors for single stranded oligonucelotide sequences. They show a remarkable improvement in sensitivity, salt tolerance, and temperature stability compared to ssDNA analogues and have detection limits as low as 10 pM. They even work using a simple mobile phone camera!



Work with the GML, work with industry leader!

As part of our new transition to the University of Manchester, we are seeking an enthusiastic person to work with us and an industry leader in glass fibre insulation on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project. The ideal person will had a PhD in polymer synthesis or composites, with an expertise in sustainability a bonus. Above all, we are looking for an exceptional and independent learner, scientist and leader to undertake this 36-month project which has an overall aim of developing sustainable glass fibre insulation formulations.

The position will provide you with a unique opportunity to improve the sustainability of glass fibre insulation through their knowledge of polymer chemistry. Translating fundamental commodity polymer chemistry into the unique field of glass fibre composites will require a diverse knowledge of sustainability, composites, polymer chemistry, synthesis and characterisation. It will allow for the rapid development, pilot and scale-up of solutions to reduce the environmental footprint of a major construction product, making the process as “green” as possible whilst retaining or improving material performance. Understanding the applicability of potential solutions to fit with existing company infrastructure will provide ideal training as a transition to a career in the chemicals or polymers industries in the UK, but also extensive experiential learning in communication and leadership. This collaborative project will be directly connected to the training and development aspect of the KTP, with integration of both composites and sustainability training into the Associate’s role.

Based at the University of Manchester School of Materials and extensive travel to company premises, You will work directly with supervisors from both the University and the company and will use the facilities and resources of both organisations.

For more details check out:


Or send Mike an email with any enquiries.


Topological Control from a Synthetic Polymer

Congrats to Mohammed Alkattan and our University of Glasgow collaborator Joelle Prunet who have just had a really cool paper accepted as a VIP article in Angewandte Chemie:


TOC Angw

The paper details our work on creating stereoregular cyclopolyethers. Ring-closing metathesis from an isotactic polyether affords the target cyclopolyether. Stereoselective cis-dihydroxylation gives a PEGose framework that mimics the helical ladder structure of amylose. This topological control of synthetic polymer frameworks is a really tough challenge in polymer science in the quest for biopolymer mimics. Great work!

Joseph Black Stars

Big congratulations to Meng Wang (2nd Place Talk Prize – Materials Chemistry) and Joanne Dunne (2nd Place Poster Prize – Synthesis and Catalysis) for their award winning work at the 4th annual Joseph Black Conference on 31 May.

Big congratulations to the rest of the group as well – Gerry gave a great talk in the Chem/Bio section on his sensor work; Dan and Mo both gave great talks in the Syn/Cat section (although Dan needs to get his face onto Titanium Man’s body, too…); and both Vishal and Yas had really attractive posters presenting their work on new polymers.

Great work!

New paper on phostones and poly(phosphonate)s!

Great work by Emily with the Wurm group at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research. This paper describes the synthesis of phostones, i.e., 2-alkoxy-2-oxo-1,3-oxaphospholanes, and their use in the preparation of linear poly(phosphonate)s via ring-opening polymerization resulting in polymers with a hydrolytically stable P–C bond in the polymer backbone. Phostones have the stable P–C bond within the cycle, which leads to a dramatic increase of the monomer stability toward hydrolysis and long shelf-lives compared to other cyclic phosphoesters, which hydrolyze immediately at contact with water.

Read it here