Programming polymers

Study level

Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Hendrik Frisch
Postdoctoral Research Fellow (ARC DECRA)
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Radical polymerisations play a key role in both commercial and fundamental research with it being in 45% of international polymer production at 100 million tons per year.

However, radical polymerizations still suffer from synthetic drawbacks like all-carbon polymer backbones, which largely prevent their (bio)degradability.

In this project, we will develop novel polymers which can be programmed towards a controlled degradability. Towards this goal, you will develop a polymerization technique that allows to incorporate small natural building blocks (i.e. peptides) into synthetic polymers. These peptide sequences will carry the information load encoded into these polymers.

Research activities

This project will teach you the synthesis of small molecules and large polymers. You will design functional molecular structures, plan a strategy for the synthesis and finally use the toolbox of organic chemistry to synthesise those novel molecules.

Subsequently, those functional molecules will be tested for their performance as monomers in radical polymerizations.


We are looking to develop novel plastics, which nature can fully degrade if they are not recycled properly and end up in the environment.

Skills and experience

If you are highly motivated to learn new skills in synthetic chemistry and keen to participate in cutting edge science, you are the perfect candidate for this project.

At least one year of undergraduate chemistry would be beneficial.



Contact Dr Hendrik Frisch for more information.