Steven Armes’s research focuses on the synthesis and application of polymers — long-chain molecules formed from many repeat units known as monomers. In particular, Steven’s research group has developed new ways to make water-soluble or water-dispersible polymers based on methacrylic monomers.
A powerful approach is to use polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA). For example, a water-insoluble polymer can be grown from one end of a water-soluble polymer in aqueous solution. The growing hydrophobic chain leads to in situ self-assembly, forming copolymer nanoparticles of tuneable size and shape. These nanoparticles have a wide range of potential applications, including as a long-term storage medium for stem cells, viscosity modifiers, novel microcapsules and nanoparticle lubricants.
His other research interests include designing novel biocompatible copolymer gels and vesicles and developing microscopic nanocomposite particles, which have applications in paints and antireflective coatings. Steven also has a fruitful collaboration with space scientists based in the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, for whom he designs synthetic mimics to aid our understanding the behaviour of micrometeorites travelling at hypervelocities in outer space.
Interest and expertise
Polymer chemistry, colloids, water-soluble polymers, colloidal nanocomposites, block copolymers, self-assembly, conducting polymers, biocompatible polymers, RAFT polymerisation, polymerisation-induced self-assembly, branched copolymers