Professor Tony Ryan, OBE
Professor of Physical Chemistry
My main contribution to the field has been the development and application of the techniques of time-resolved structural tools to polymers. This work was the subject of prizes in 1990 by the Plastics and Rubber Institute, in 1992, 1999 and 2003 from the Royal Society of Chemistry and in 1999 from the Polymer Processing Society.
I have been active in promulgating the public understanding of science since my graduate student days. This culminated in my appointment as the Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer for 2002 where my theme was the science and technology of everyday things. The lectures were seen on Channel 4 by 4.5 million viewers and have also been broadcast in Europe, Japan and Korea. I was also the 1st EPSRC Senior Media Fellow to allow me to combine world-class research and popular understanding of the impact of science and technology on society. I was awarded an OBE in 2005 for “services to science”.
Research Fellow in Crystallisation
Much of my research focuses on the structural analysis of soft matter materials and in particular polymers. We live in a Golden age of Materials Science and Biology, based on a solid underpinning from Chemistry and Physics. One of the keys to this success is recent progress in structural characterisation techniques where scattering methods, giving access to structural organisation of matter from atomic scales to microns, occupy a dominating role. Experimental data obtained by scattering methods (SAXS, WAXS, XRD, SANS and SLS) provide structural information associated with Fourier space.
My research investigates how this information can be transformed into real space, convenient for our understanding. This involves structural modelling, Monte-Carlo simulations and Fourier transformation techniques. An other aspect of my work is design of experimental set-ups for studying materials under external impact such as shear flow or extensional flow, temperature or pH changes.
Post Doctoral Researchers
Dr Andrew Campbell
After graduating with a degree in chemistry (MChem) from the University of Bath I moved to the school of chemistry at the University of Bristol to study for my PhD. There I researched the 3D structure of colloid-polymer gels in non-aqueous media using laser scanning confocal microscopy and image analysis techniques. In subsequent postdoctoral positions I have worked on a number of projects studying the physical properties of soft matter systems including crystallising colloidal suspensions, concentrated colloidal pastes flowing in restricted geometries and the effect of shear on fibrin gels.
In 2012 I moved to Sheffield to work in the Chemical and Biological Engineering department of the university, researching the autonomous directional control of active Janus sphere colloids. In April 2016 I joined the Ryan-Mykhaylyk group in the department of chemistry, where I am studying structural colour in block-copolymers and block-copolymer micelles in waxes using X-ray scattering (SAXS, WAXS).
Dr James Jennings
I graduated from Durham University with a Masters in chemistry (MChem) in 2009, then moved on to the University of Nottingham to complete a PhD in chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Steve Howdle. At Nottingham, I studied RAFT-controlled synthesis and self-assembly of block copolymers in a supercritical CO2 dispersion polymerisation, receiving my PhD in 2013. I moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2013 for postdoctoral research in the groups of Prof. Mahesh Mahanthappa and Prof. David Lynn, working on the crosslinking of lyotropic liquid crystalline assemblies of gemini surfactants, the self-assembly of biological lipid mimics, and synthesis of degradable and functionalisable copolymers. My research interests are centred on the design, synthesis, and characterisation of nanostructured soft materials in the form of particles and films.
I joined the Ryan group in October 2016, where I am working on the stabilisation of solid lipid nanoplatelets using polymeric stabilisers synthesised by RAFT polymerisation, and characterisation by small-angle X-ray scattering.
Dr Mateusz Gosecki
I come from Poland where I received my PhD in chemistry at the Centre of Molecular and Macromolecular Studies of Polish Academy of Sci in 2015. My core expertise is in polymer chemistry. My research focused on synthesis of polyesters, polyethers of various architecture and functionality which were used for fabrication of various colloidal materials (micelles and gels) and microparticles, for example for the purpose of bioactive compounds delivery.
My current research at the University of Sheffield is focused on modification of cellulose and its derivatives which would enable its more effective processing in the form of aquamelts.
My research goal is to understand the relations between the structure of macromolecules and the properties of materials they comprise.
I was very interested in organic synthesis as an undergraduate … until I met Tony Ryan. From then onwards I became interested in polymers and using them to create “tiny machines” which can perform useful tasks. In this vein I embarked on a PhD with the aim of creating some of these tiny machines which can swim through liquids. I didn’t manage to achieve what we set out to, but I did learn some useful science about colloids, polymers, and particularly polymer brushes which enabled me to convince the university to part with some cash in the form of a 1-year Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship. After which, a chance encounter via email resulted in a postdoc position in Japan studying wettability. After returning to the UK 2.5 years later, I briefly worked in the chemical industry researching shampoo before returning to The University of Sheffield in 2017.
My current research aims to mimic the same process by which spiders create silk, but using synthetic polymers. This should lead to a new class of materials which change from liquid to solid on application of shear flow.
Dr Matthew Derry
I obtained a Masters in chemistry (MChem) from the University of York in 2012, which included a 12 month industrial placement at Infineum involving the synthesis and investigation of polymeric additives for improved cold flow performance of diesel fuel. I then moved to the University of Sheffield, and after a brief summer research placement, started my PhD project under the supervision of Prof. Steve Armes FRS. This PhD project was fully-funded by Lubrizol and was focused on RAFT-mediated polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA) in industrially-relevant non-polar solvents. In addition to the synthesis of block copolymer nanoparticles of various morphologies(spheres, worms and vesicles), detailed transmission electron microscopy (TEM), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), rheology and shear-induced polarised light imaging (SIPLI) analyses were conducted. In particular, in situ SAXS studies were conducted to provide mechanistic insights into the morphological evolution of diblock copolymer nanoparticles during PISA. After receiving my PhD in 2016, I continued as a postdoctoral researcher in the Armes Group, further researching non-polar PISA formulations.
In April 2017 I began a research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which is a joint venture between the Armes and Ryan-Mykhaylyk groups. I am investigating the initial micellisation behaviour of block copolymer assemblies under various conditions using sophisticated small-anglescattering techniques.
I completed my Masters in Chemistry at the University of Sheffield in 2015. During my Masters I studied and developed new materials for application in organic photovoltaics. I decided to remain in Sheffield to tackle my PhD. My research focusses on the self-assembly and solution properties of amphiphilic statistical copolymers. This project makes use of techniques such as SAXS, rheology, and electrophoresis.
I completed the Masters course in Chemistry at the University of Sheffield in 2015. As part of my degree, I did a year-long industrial placement at Akzonobel based within a research team developing next-generation polymers that addressed the deficiencies in waterborne trim technology for use in paint. I returned to Sheffield for my final year where I joined the Staniland group to study magnetic materials on patterned surfaces. My PhD research investigates surfactant behaviour in hard surface cleaner formulations.
I completed my Masters in Chemical Engineering at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. My training in Polymer Sciences and as a hobbyist hydroponic growing I was attracted to my current PhD which looks at optimising the formulation of Polyurethane foams to mimic natural soil for applications in greenhouses. This optimised polymer will use added bio-based materials, and include slow nutrient release agents whilst attempting to retain the recyclable nature of the foam.
My first experience of polymers was my industrial placement, where I was characterising the thermal and mechanical behaviour of commercial epoxy resins experimentally and computationally, before returning to complete my Masters. My PhD is looking to analyse and characterise the flow-induced crystallisation of polyethylene through a combination of shear-flow and SAXS experiments, with a view to exploiting this for novel commercial technologies.
Having completed a Masters degree at the University of Sheffield, I decided to remain in the city and further my education. My project focuses on the design and production of a microfluidic device for in-situ SAXS measurements. This device will employ both shear and elongational flow to enable new paradigms for polymer processing
I completed my Masters degree with a year in industry in 2016, where I gained an appreciation for the role of research in commercial technologies. The focus of my current work continues this trend; where I study the behaviour of non-aqueous fluid and gels in personal care products, using a variety of techniques including conductivity, SAXS and rheology.
I first became interested in polymers when I undertook a summer project with Dr Mykhaylyk sponsored by AkzoNobel. In this I investigated the structure-property relationship of a model water-borne paint formulation which exhibited unusual rheological properties. This formed the basis upon which my Masters research project was built. As a joint PhD student between Dr Mykhaylyk and Prof. S.P. Armes I am now researching various RAFT PISA formulations utilising SAXS.