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Enabling efficient and scalable protocols for high-precision synthesis of complex polymer architectures with real-time reaction monitoring

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Maciek Kopec
    Dr Ulrich Hintermair
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) at the University of Bath has launched a joint PhD programme with Monash University, Australia.
This project is one of a number that are in competition for up to four funded studentships. More details are available here:

Home institution: Bath University
Supervisor at Bath: Dr Maciek Kopec (lead)
Supervisor at Monash: Tanja Junkers


The development of controlled radical polymerization techniques such as atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and reversible addition fragmentation transfer (RAFT) polymerization has enabled the preparation of macromolecules with unprecedented levels of sophistication.1,2 This in turn opened new applications of functional polymer materials such as block copolymers, networks, gels and various (bio)hybrids in nanotechnology, energy conversion/storage and biomedicine. The recent rapid growth of photoinduced ATRP and RAFT methods has further expanded the array of advanced polymerizations to improve spatiotemporal control and allow tuning of molecular weight distributions.3,4

In the framework of this project we will conduct fundamental studies on the formation of complex polymer architectures such as branched, star-like or crosslinked (co)polymers using online reaction monitoring in real time. Photoinduced ATRP (photoATRP) and photoinduced-electron-transfer RAFT (PET-RAFT) polymerizations will be combined with continuous flow chemistry to prepare well-defined, hierarchical polymer nanostructures in a fast, sustainable, and reproducible fashion. Detailed kinetic studies enabled by online reaction monitoring will allow to establish principles for rational design of more robust processes and novel materials.5 Specifically, temporal control offered by photocontrolled polymerizations combined with the possibility to follow reactions in real time will significantly broaden our fundamental understanding of the formation of complex polymer architectures.

The integrated multi-technique setup at the Dynamic Reaction Monitoring Facility at the University of Bath will be crucial to precisely follow the polymerizations in solution. The combination of advanced high-resolution FlowNMR techniques (1D, 2D, homo-nuclear decoupling, diffusion measurements, etc.) with online mass spectrometry and triple-detection SEC/GPC promises new insights into the formation of precision polymers. From the Monash side, the flow process for the reactions will be developed and followed up. Online monitoring is an ideal tool for flow polymerizations as it allows to include machine-learning algorithms to create self-optimizing routines. This largely accelerates screening of reactions.

Application process

We invite applications from Science and Engineering graduates who have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second class degree and have a strong interest in Sustainable & Circular Technologies.

You MUST express interest for three projects in order of preference – you can see all projects here: . Please submit your application at the Home institution of your preferred project (‘Home’ institution details can be found in the project summary). However, please note that you are applying for a joint PhD programme and applications will be processed as such.

University of Bath

Please submit your application through the following link:
Please make sure to mention in the “finance” section of your application that you are applying for funding through the joint Bath/Monash PhD programme for your specified projects.
In the “research interests” section of your application, please name the three projects you are interested in and rank them in order of preference. Please also include the names of the Bath lead supervisors.

Monash University

Expressions of interest (EoI) can be lodged through The EoI should provide the following information:
CV including details of citizenship, your Official Academic Transcripts, key to grades/grading scale of your transcripts, evidence of English language proficiency (IELTS or TOEFL, for full requirements see:, and two referees and contact details (optional). You must provide a link to these documents in Section 8 using Google Drive (Instructions in Section 8).

Funding Notes

Bath Monash PhD studentships include tuition fee sponsorship and a living allowance (stipend) for the course duration (up to 42 months maximum). Note, however, that studentships for Bath-based projects will provide cover for UK/EU tuition fees ONLY. Non-Australian nationals studying in Australia will be required to pay their own Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).
Additional and suitably qualified applicants who can access a scholarship/studentship from other sources will be also considered.


1. K. Matyjaszewski, N. V. Tsarevsky, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 6513. 2. G. Moad, E. Rizzardo, S. Thang, Aust. J. Chem. 2012, 65, 985. 3. M. Chen, M. Zhong, J. A. Johnson, Chem. Rev. 2016, 116, 10167. 4. N. Corrigan, J. Yeow, P. Judzewitsch, J. Xu, C. Boyer, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2019, 131, 5224. 5. M. Rubens; J. V. Herck; T. Junkers, ACS Macro Lett. 2019, 8, 1437.

How good is research at University of Bath in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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