Fundamental studies and applications of polymer mechanochemistry

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof Roman Boulatov  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The group’s core expertise is in polymer mechanochemistry (, an emerging area of science at the interface of chemistry, physics and engineering. Polymer mechanochemistry attempts to understand and exploit how mechanical loads, capable of stretching, compressing or shearing a polymeric material, alter the chemical properties of the polymer. The group pursues both fundamental questions, such as how reaction mechanisms change in response to mechanical forces at different scales, and applications of this fundamental understanding to improve existing and create new materials, devices and processes and to design new chemistries. These goals are achieved by integrating synthesis, measurements, quantum-chemical calculations and modelling. As a result, the group provides an excellent opportunity to become an expert in any one of these subfields of chemistry, or develop broad expertise across several subfields.

Examples of projects on which the newly accepted group member can take a lead include: understanding mechanochemistry of conducting polymers; learning how to use mechanical force to control organometallic catalysis; experimental and computational model studies of the biomechanochemistry that enables tactility; designing mechanochemical reactions to study the behaviour of polymer chains in flows; developing tractable models of exceptional mechanostability of adherins, and developing practical strategies of integrating self-healing behaviour into specialty polymers of commercial significance. All group members are also offered practical assistance with developing their own projects from identifying a compelling scientific problem, through the project design, implementation and dissemination.

The complexity and multidisciplinary nature of the phenomena we study place a premium on group members learning not just technical skills but a systematic way of thinking about scientific problems, and means of applying this thinking to all aspects of research. Professional and scientific development is a high priority in the group, which is facilitated by its small size, enabling the advisor to maintain the open-door policy and to provide technical, tactical and strategic advice. Historically, the group has been particularly attractive to PhD candidates who want to gain a broad functional familiarity with the diverse tools of contemporary chemistry and learn how to integrate them into a coherent research approach suitable for addressing the most challenging scientific problems in molecular sciences.

The group invites applications from highly qualified and ambitious candidates with research background in organic synthesis, physical measurements, quantum-chemical calculations or modelling. Demonstrated research proficiency is more important than course marks. Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a good degree (equivalent to a UK First or Upper Second Class degree) in Chemistry, Materials Science or a related discipline.

For any enquiries please contact Prof. Boulatov on: [Email Address Removed]

To apply for this opportunity, please visit: and click on the 'Ready to apply? Apply online' button, to start your application. Please ensure you note the name of the project Fundamental studies and applications of polymer mechanochemistry on your application form, and note reference: CCPR0047.

Chemistry (6) Materials Science (24)

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover full tuition fees at the UK rate (UK AND RoI students are eligible for domestic tuition) and pay a maintenance grant for 3.5 years (£15,609 p.a. with predicted annual increase) and it is anticipated that the successful candidate will start in October 2022. Applications from non-UK candidates who meet the eligibility requirements of EPSRC: and the language requirements of the University of Liverpool: are welcome.


Akbulatov, S.; Tian, Y.; Huang, Z.; Kucharski, T. J.; Yang, Q.; Boulatov, R. Experimentally realized mechanochemistry distinct from force-accelerated dissociation of loaded bonds. Science, 2017, 357, 299-303
O'Neill, R.; Boulatov, R. The many flavors of mechanochemistry and its plausible conceptual underpinnings. Nature Rev. Chem., 2021, 5, 148-167
Tian, Y.; Cao, X.; Li, X.; Zhang, H.; Sun, C.; Xu, Y.; Weng. W.; Zhang, W.; Boulatov, R. A polymer with mechanochemically active hidden length. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2020, 142, 18687-18697
Zhang, H.; Li, X.; Lin, Y.; Gao, F.; Tang, Z.; Su, P.; Zhang, W.; Xu, Y.; Weng, W.; Boulatov, R. Multimodal mechanophores based on cinnamate dimers. Nature Commun., 2017, 8, 1147

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