Dr Nicholas J. Warren

Profile

Academic Positions

  • University Academic Fellow, School of School of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Leeds, UK (2016-present) 

Post-doctoral Positions

  • Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Department of Chemistry, University of Sheffield, UK (2011-2016)

Education

  • PhD, Polymer Chemistry, University of Sheffield, UK (2007-2011).
  • MSci (Hons), Chemistry with Industrial Experience, University of Bristol, UK (2001-2005).

Research interests

My research is based around the synthesis of functional polymeric materials using controlled radical polymerisation techniques such as Reversible addition fragmentation chain-transfer (RAFT) polymerisation and atom transfer radical polymerisation (ATRP). These processes enable polymers to be prepared with extremely narrow molecular weight distributions, often meaning fine control over structural an mechanical properties can be achieved. I am particularly interested in the synthesis of block copolymers, where two distinct polymer chains are joined together by a single covalent bond. When these chains are placed in a solvent which is selective for one of the blocks, they self-assemble spontaneously to form block copolymer nanoparticles. In-situ synthesis and self-assembly can also be achieved using heterogeneous RAFT (dispersion or emulsion polymerisation), which is a facile route to higher order block copolymer nano-objects such as wormlike/cylindrical micelles or vesicles formed by polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA). Moreover, by using specific monomers, responsive block copolymers can be designed so upon applying a stimulus (e.g. temperature, pH or salt concentration), they can undergo a morphological transition. Potential applications for these systems include drug and gene delivery, catalyst immobilisation or as rheology modifiers.

I am also interested in new methods for the synthesis of polymers, with a significant portion of research in my group looking into alternatives to batch synthesis. In particular, continuous flow provides an attractive synthetic route and is currently underutilised. By working with experts at the Institute of Process Research and Development (IPRD) here at the University of Leeds, my group aims to optimise this technique to allow for safer, more economical and less energy intensive methods of polymer synthesis. This technique may also allow for finer control over copolymer architecture.

Research interests

  • Synthetic polymer chemistry using controlled/living techniques (RAFT, ATRP).
  • Continuous-flow polymer synthesis
  • Self-assembly of multiblock copolymers
  • Colloidal systems
  • Biocompatible block-copolymers
  • Hydrogels
  • Micellar Catalysis

 

Qualifications

  • MSci in Chemistry with Industrial Experience
  • PhD in Polymer Chemistry

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Research groups and institutes

  • Complex Systems and Processes
  • Institute of Process Research and Development
  • Functional Materials, Products and Devices

Publications:

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