The Green Materials Laboratory have a primary focus on improving the sustainability of plastics both through our research inside the lab and our collaboration outside of it. We thus work to create new-to-the-world polymers and materials in both an economically and environmentally sustainable manner. This is achieved through targeting a one-step change in terms of either (i) competing with existing materials in terms of price and performance or (ii) creating functional polymers which offer something no other material can do. Our research group now spans both of these important targets, as well as preparing new catalysts that facilitate improved synthesis of existing polymers, with a research portfolio spanning across biodegradable polymers, recycling, biosensors, sustainable composites and functional materials, enabled by the tools of materials science, chemistry, physics and engineering.
Our expertise are rooted in control over two principle polymerisation routes: ring-opening polymerisation, notably in the design of novel cyclic esters to target functional polyesters, and controlled radical polymerisation, notably the polymerisation of functional monomers. These fundamental studies are paired with more applied projects to create materials with application in formulations, plastic packaging, medical diagnostic, glass fibre composites and fabrics (see our funders list). The Green Materials Laboratory’s proficiency for sustainability has also enabled us to lead and enhance our expertise outside of the lab – notably with the University of Manchester’s collaborative RE3 Project.
It is this ability to work on fundamental polymer science and catalysis alongside industrially driven materials science research that makes research in this field so exciting. Our group views collaboration as an integral part of our foundation, using a community approach to help deliver impact from our key discoveries, from fundamental academic pursuits to patentable impact-driven projects.