Research Fellows Directory
Dr Jonathan Weaver
Imperial College London
The development of the next generation of technologies and products relies heavily on the discovery and understanding of completely new materials. While significant research efforts are currently directed towards creating solid materials with advanced properties and functionality, rather less attention has been given to liquid-based materials. This is hardly surprising since liquids are conventionally understood to be disordered materials which flow and which have limited permanent structure. In this URF, I am developing new techniques at the boundary of several fields (synthetic polymer chemistry, colloid science, self-assembly and biological mimicry) to re-define this long-standing assumption. This is an extremely exciting and important aim since it will open up a completely new state of matter – liquids – as a tool for synthetic materials scientists. The potential of this approach is vast since liquids are much more processable, mouldable and are more efficient carriers (i.e., dissolution) than solids.
In this URF, I will combine novel polymer chemistry, emulsion science and physical (reversible) bonds to develop a conceptually new class of structured liquid material which has ‘solid-like’ properties. These materials will be constructed from very stable liquid droplets, which have surfaces with very specific chemistry, as building-blocks. Interactions between polymers located on these surfaces will allow the droplets to assemble into various tightly-bound arrangements in much the same way that cement holds bricks together in a wall. These materials, which can have dimensions as large as centimetres, will have solid-like character however their composition will be almost entirely liquid. This is an exciting concept since it will allow various commercially important liquids to have controllable structure and shape. The materials we are targetting have potential implications in regenerative medical applications, such as osteoarthritis which is a specific aim.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)