Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy
  • Honours
  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Research)
Division / Faculty
Academic Division


Up for a challenge? In this project you can explore if you can beat nature in making catalytic systems! Over billions of years, nature has perfected the design and synthesis of high molecular weight precision macromolecules, which are able to execute a specific function in a complex biological environment such as proteins.

Research activities

  • Organic synthesis
  • Macromolecular synthesis
  • Photochemistry
  • Soft matter materials science
  • Advanced functional materials


The project will be embedded into a large research effort within the Soft Matter Materials Team aimed at using precision synthetic polymer chemistry to design macromolecules that can be folded and unfolded into precise tertiary structures by outer field stimuli, particularly light. Ideally, specific colours of light will be able to induce specific morphological changes in the folded single chain macromolecules. Applications of such systems lie in advanced catalysis with improved properties over their natural analogs, i.e. enzymes.

Skills and experience

  • Strong interest in soft matter materials science
  • Strong skills in organic synthesis
  • Strong interest in multidisciplinary work between physics, chemistry and biology
  • Willingness to collaborate internationally


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

Explore our research scholarships



Contact Dr Laura Delafresnaye for more information.