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University of Sheffield Polymer Physics Group


Welcome to the homepage of the Polymer Physics Group. Our research interests include the physical properties of natural and synthetic polymers in thin films and near interfaces and surfaces. We form part of the Soft Matter Physics Group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. We are also part of the Polymer Science Centre at the University.

The group is lead by Professor Richard Jones [1] FRS a leading experimental polymer physicist who specialises in elucidating the nanoscale (sub-microscopic) structure and properties of polymers and biological macromolecules. He was recently awarded the IOP founders prize (2015) for his considerable contributions to polymer science.

Andy Parnell [2] has been a member of the group on and off for nearly 10 years, examining many different soft matter and biophysics problems.

In the last 5 years our work has covered many different aspects of Soft matter Physics from phase separation in polymer systems through the study of conjugated semiconducting polymers and increasingly the study of biological materials.

Research Themes polymer physics, biophysics, soft matter, organic photovoltaics, phase separation, photonics, neutron and x-ray scattering, block copolymers, polymer brushes, structured surfaces, anti-microbial surfaces, adhesion, antifouling

Applications of our work are in areas as diverse as molecular electronics, hair care, packaging, smart drug delivery. Indeed much of what we do is involved in the highly topical area of what is known as "soft nanotechnology"(Soft Machines Weblog). In order to carry out these studies we use a wide variety of experimental techniques including:

Recent publications

  • Porosity of Stöber silica observed by spin-echo small angle neutron scattering. S. R. Parnell, A. L. Washington, R. Pynn, A. Walsh, A. J. Parnell and R. M. Dalgliesh. (Soft Matter). DOI 10.1039/C5SM02772A (2016).
  • An anti-inflammatory, self-assembled peptide/polysaccharide scaffold that induces apoptosis in epithelial cancer cells. R. Li, S. Pavuluri, K. Bruggeman, B. Long, A. J. Parnell, A. Martel, S. R. Parnell, F. Pfeffer A. J. C. Dennison, K. Nicholas, C. Barrow, D. Nisbet (Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 12, p1397-1407 (2016).
  • Extrinsic wrinkling and single exfoliated sheets of graphene oxide in polymer composites. M. P. Weir, D. W. Johnson, S. Boothroyd, R. Savage, R. L. Thompson, S. R. Parnell, A. J. Parnell, S. M. King, S. E. Rogers, K. S. Coleman N. Clarke. Chemistry of Materials, 28, p1698-1704 (2016).
  • A Neutron Reflectometry Study of the Interaction of Partially Denatured Insulin with a DSPC Floating Lipid Bilayer. A. J. C. Dennison, R. A. L. Jones. R. A. Staniforth, A. J. Parnell. Soft Matter, 12, p824-829 (2016).
  • Physical mechanisms responsible for the water induced degradation of PC61BM P3HT photovoltaic thin film films. A. J. Parnell, A. J. Cadby, A. D. F. Dunbar, G. Roberts, A. Plumridge, R. M. Dalgliesh, M. W. A. Skoda, and R. A. L. Jones. Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics, 54, p141-146 (2016).
  • Spatially modulated structural colour in bird feathers. A. J. Parnell, A. L. Washington, O. O. Mykhaylyk, C. J. Hill, A. Bianco, S. L. Burg, A. J C Dennison, M. Snape, A. J. Cadby, A. J. Smith, S. Prevost, D. M. Whittaker, R. A. L. Jones, A. R. Parker and J. P. A. Fairclough. Nature Scientific Reports, art. No. 18317 (2015).
  • Spin Echo Small Angle Neutron Scattering using a continuously pumped 3He neutron polarisation analyser. S. R. Parnell, A. L. Washington , K. Li , H. Yan , P. Stonaha , F. Li , T. Wang , A. Walsh , W. C. Chen , A. J Parnell , J. P. A. Fairclough , D. V. Baxter , W. Snow , R. Pynn. Review of Scientific Instruments, 86, 023902 (2015).
  • The hydration and ordering of lamellar block copolymer films prior to formation of polymer vesicles. Y. Kamata, A. J. Parnell, P. Gutfreund, M. Skoda, A. Dennison, R. Barker, S. Mai, A. J. Ryan, N. Torikai, M. Kawaguchi and R. A. L. Jones. Macromolecules, 47, p8682-8690 (2014).
  • Voltage-induced swelling and de-swelling of weak polybase brushes. M. P. Weir, S. Y. Heriot, A. J Parnell, S. A. Holt, J. R. P. Webster and R. A. L. Jones. Langmuir, 27, p11000-11007 (2011).
  • The Nanoscale Phase Separation of P3HT PCBM Thick Films as measured by Small Angle X-ray Scattering. A. J. Parnell, A. J. Cadby, O. O. Mykhaylyk, A. D. F. Dunbar, P. E. Hopkinson. A. M. Donald, R. A. L. Jones. Macromolecules, 44, p6503-6508 (2011).
  • In Situ Imaging and Height Reconstruction of Phase Separation Processes in Polymer Blends during Spin Coating. S. Ebbens, R. Hodgkinson, A. J. Parnell, A. Dunbar, S. J. Martin, P. D. Topham, N. Clarke, and J. R. Howse. ACS Nano, 5, p5124-5131 (2011).
  • Continuously tuneable optical filters from self-assembled block copolymer blends. A. J. Parnell, A. Pryke, O. O. Mykhaylyk, A. M. Adawi, N. J. Terril, J. R. Howse, J. P. A. Fairclough. Soft Matter, 7, p3721-3725 (2011).
  • Direct visualization of the real time swelling and collapse of a poly(methacrylic acid) brush using scanning force microscopy A. J. Parnell, S. J. Martin, R. A. L. Jones, C. J. Crook and A. J. Ryan. Soft Matter 5, 296-299 (2009).
  • Synthesis, Characterization and Swelling behaviour of Poly(methacrylic acid) Brushes Synthesized Using Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization. A. J. Parnell, S. J. Martin, C. C. Dang, M. Geoghegan, R. A. L. Jones, C. J. Crook, J. R. Howse and A. J. Ryan. Polymer, 50, p1005-11014 (2009).

list of Polymer Group Publications

Recent Highlights