Research Overview

In our research we use controlled polymerisation techniques to synthesise polymers and polymer architectures to investigate key questions in a range of priority areas. Our research is centred around molecular brushes and shape-anisotropic nanomaterials which is feeding into three key research interests: self-assembly, cellular interactions and hybrid materials.

Polymer architectures for biological studies

Nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems may overcome many limitations of traditional delivery strategies for therapeutics. However, the superficial penetration of tumours by nanoparticles is a key hurdle to treatment success. In this project, we are mapping a structure-function-property relationship using  molecular polymer brushes. This will allow us to screen for ideal nanoparticle design parameters to improve tissue and tumour penetration of future polymer nanomedicines. Projects on this subject were supported by a McKenzie Fellowship, and are currently is supported through an ARC DECRA.


  1. Aspect-ratio-dependent interaction of molecular polymer brushes and multicellular tumour spheroids
    Polymer Chemistry 2018, 25 (9), 3461-3465
  2. A 'Grafting from' Approach to Polymer Nanorods for pH-Triggered Intracellular Drug Delivery
    Polymer 2017 ,112, 244-251
  3. Molecular Polymer Brushes in Nanomedicine
    Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics 2016, 207 (20), 2209-2222
  4. Passive Tumour Targeting and Extravasation of Cylindrical Polymer Brushes in Mouse Xenografts
    Chemical Communications 2016, 52, 9121-9124
  5. Cylindrical Polymer Brushes – Anisotropic Building Blocks, Unimolecular Templates and Particulate Nanocarriers
    Polymer 2016, 98, 389-401
  6. Size and rigidity of cylindrical polymer brushes dictate long circulating properties in vivo
    ACS Nano 2015, 9 (2), 1294-1304

Building blocks for the self-assembly of structured polymers

Nature’s countless examples of multi-functional advanced materials are often achieved by bottom-up self-assembly of organic and inorganic building blocks. We are progressing compartmentalised polymeric building blocks for the construction of superstructures through polymer-polymer and inter-particle associations. Projects on this subject were supported by the Selby Research Award, USyd Seedfunding, Sydney Nano and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Postdoctoral  Fellowship scheme.


  1. Polymer Nanowires with Highly Precise Internal Morphology and Topography
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018, 140 (40), 12736-12740
  2. Synthesis and applications of compartmentalised molecular polymer brushes
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2018, 57 (24), 6982-6994
  3. Self-assembly of diblock molecular polymer brushes in the spherical confinement of nanoemulsion droplets
    Macromolecular Rapid Communications 2018, 39 (19), 1800177

Nanostructured hybrid materials from tailor-made polymers

We have developed several synthetic approaches to produce highly uniform hybrid materials by using innovative molecular scaffolds, in situ nanostructuring as well as traditional template chemistries. We are currently looking at combining sustainable materials in the fabrication of electrode materials. This project was supported by an Australian Nanotechnology Network Fellowship.

  1. Block Copolymer-Directed Synthesis of Porous Anatase for Lithium-Ion Battery Electrodes
    Journal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry
  2. Polymer brush guided templating on well-defined rod-like cellulose nanocrystals
    Polymer Chemistry 2018, 13 (9), 1650-1657
  3. Cylindrical Polymer Brushes – Anisotropic Building Blocks, Unimolecular Templates and Particulate Nanocarriers
    Polymer 2016, 98, 389-401

Synthesis methods

We have developed new synthetic approaches to produce uniform polymers using reversible deactivation radical polymerisation.

Using stimuli-responsive features we are also able to produce polymer/peptide/protein particles for triggered disassembly.

  1. Visible Light‐Driven MADIX Polymerisation via a Reusable, Low‐Cost and Non‐Toxic Bismuth Oxide Photocatalyst

    Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2019, 58 (6), 1828-1832
  2. Modulated Fragmentation of Proapoptotic Peptide Nanoparticles Regulates Cytotoxicity
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 2017, 139 (11), 4009-4018
  3. Surface-initiated polymerization within mesoporous silica spheres for the modular design of charge-neutral polymer particles
    Langmuir 2014, 30 (21), 6286-6293