The School of Chemistry and Biosciences is committed to carrying out high impact materials research, developing new and original technology platforms that could be used to improve the modern world.
Materials chemistry is one of the most modern, cutting edge areas of chemical research and our school is well positioned to collaborate with a range of industrial sectors.
The quest to explore the world at the nanoscale and uncover its secrets is a driving force behind many new and fascinating discoveries within the last decade.
Special properties are associated with “small” (nanometer sized) materials thus properties can be “tuned” through size control.
It is important that new nanomaterials can be intelligently designed, synthesised and manipulated to achieve their full potential across a range of applications. Research is focused on synthesising, modifying, characterising and testing devices composed of a wide range of nanomaterials (metals, metal oxides, binary and ternary component semiconductors), chemical modification of surfaces so that they can be placed into a range of device architectures and design of new nanomaterials.
A significant portion of the research effort has gone into making solution-based nanomaterials for clean and efficient energy conversion (photovoltaics and thermoelectrics for efficient generation), as well as probing their electronic structure and seeing how charges move through such systems.
Other research is focused on the development of the next generation of nanomaterials for drug delivery and medical applications. The development of advanced drug delivery systems can improve existing drugs’ therapeutic efficacy, alleviating their side effects, and reduce costs.
The aim of this research is to create a new generation of nanomedicines with targeted release properties, and to develop nanomedical applications to treat and diagnose diseases, provide better imaging and new treatment therapies. The strategy is to collectively apply materials chemistry, physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, and medicinal chemistry to precisely control the size, morphology, surface and structure of nanomaterials.
Our work is focused on the synthesis and properties of functional polymers.
We have good collaborative relationships with large sections of the polymers and biomedical devices industry.
Functional polymers are produced using a variety of methods including radical, cationic and ring-opening polymerisations, as well as step-growth techniques such as polyurethane synthesis.
We also make extensive use of reactions in disperse media; such as emulsion polymerisations.
We work closely with the Polymer IRC Advanced Materials Engineering and Polymer Micro and Nano Technology RKT Centres in the Faculty of Engineering and the Centre for Chemical and Structural Analysis (Analytical Centre) in the Faculty of Life Sciences to incorporate new polymers into advanced materials.
Biologically Relevant Materials
Recently, one of our focuses has been on producing functional hydrogels to support cells for applications in tissue engineering. Here our aim is to control cells as they develop and grow and to examine how the structure of the materials affects performance and cell compatibility.
In collaboration with the Advanced Materials Engineering RKT Centre and by using Green Chemistry or electrospinning, we incorporate novel antimicrobial compounds and bioactive glasses into polymers. Our aim is to create orthopaedic medical devices with enhanced osteogenic and antimicrobial properties.
Another strong theme is to use functional polymers to detect pathogens in infective diseases and here we are developing unique medical devices for use at the point of care.
The versatile nature of polymers mean they have been taken up into an incredibly diverse range of industrial and engineering applications over the last century.
We now know however that most polymers do not exist as a single compound but as complex mixtures of different sizes, shapes and distributions that all contribute to varying material properties.
As our understanding of these materials improves we are developing advanced methods of studying and characterising these materials to improve their potential for use in composites or formulations.
The crystal structure of a material determines a wide range of physical properties such as solubility, bioavailability and colour.
For example, the effectiveness of a drug is dependent on the crystal form used. As molecules can exist in a variety of different crystal forms (e.g. polymorphs, salts, co-crystals), a range of properties is possible for a given compound.
Research in crystal engineering focuses on understanding the molecular level processes that control the crystal growth of different crystals and how to use this knowledge to design and create new materials with desirable properties.
This involves a combination of experimental (crystallisation, crystal structure determination, property measurements) and computational studies (calculation of intermolecular interactions, prediction of crystal environment effects, interactions of molecules with crystal surfaces).
Our materials researchers in the University of Bradford are preparing a range of new materials for a range of applications.
These include Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) – a promising new class of material that could be used as gas storage, carbon capture, separation, catalysis and drug delivery.
Our group at the University of Bradford has been working with inorganic materials for some time. Our particular interest in this area is in developing MOFs with high stability that can lead to different practical applications.
Biomimetic clusters: Polynuclear cluster complexes are ubiquitous in nature and play key roles in many active centers in different enzymes. We are interested in developing biomimetic complexes for catalytic water-splitting reactions.
Molecule-based magnets: We are interested in synthesis and magnetic studies of polynuclear complexes of paramagnetic metal ions. They often show interesting magnetic properties, and can behave as single-molecule magnets (SMM) depending on the magnetic interaction between different metal ions. SMM is a class of materials, which may lead to development of very high-density data storage devices.
Recently, one of our research focuses has been on producing multifunctional polymers for medical device applications by modifying the polymer surface chemistry and/or topology.
By using bio-inspired surface chemistry/engineering approaches, we aim to control bacterial and cellular responses through patterning of polymers at the nanoscale. Members of the Materials Chemistry group work closely with the atomic force microscopy (AFM), confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and nanoindentation facilities within the renowned Polymer IRC labs in the University of Bradford.
We have considerable expertise in imaging and characterisation at the nanoscale, publishing using a wide range of materials (cells, tissue, polymers, hydrogels) and temperature / time dependant studies of nanomechanical measurements on viscoelastic materials.
With these techniques we have been investigating how patterned surfaces can become non-biofouling and prevent bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation.
The Materials Chemistry group are highly involved in the development of a Materials Chemistry MSc, which is taught at the School of Chemistry and Biosciences.
This course covers general training across a range of materials science including Polymer Chemistry, Inorganic Materials, Supramolecular Chemistry and Nanosciences. This year long course offers a full year long research project with your chosen academic and is an excellent way of getting hands on training in Materials Science alongside the taught material.
Many modules taught in the Materials MSc are also available across the full range of Chemistry degrees.
For PhD opportunities in this area see our list of available projects.