PhD Position - Reconfigurable Polymers via Supramolecular Self-Sorting - University of Leeds

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    University of Leeds
    United Kingdom
    Formal sciences
    First Stage Researcher (R1) (Up to the point of PhD)

Prof Andrew J Wilson and Dr Nicholas Warren

A.J.Wilson@leeds.ac.uk, phone: 0113 343 1409 N.Warren@leeds.ac.uk, phone: 0113 3434609  

For more details of active research projects, please visit our webpages at: https://wilson.leeds.ac.uk/ and https://engineering.leeds.ac.uk/staff/866/Dr_Nicholas_J_Warren

Reconfigurable Polymers via Supramolecular Self-Sorting

The goal of this project is to mimic the ability of biological materials to force macromolecular reconfiguration using photo-switchable non-covalent self-sorting.

Harnessing small molecule molecular recognition to control polymer architecture has tremendous potential for programming reconfigurable molecules with potential to bring about a revolution in advanced materials. Multiple hydrogen bonding arrays (MHAs) are capable of undergoing spontaneous reconfiguration to switch between different modes of molecular recognition. Our group has recently developed self-sorting cascades and networks  using MHAs that can be readily incorporated into supramolecular materials (Fig. 1a)1.2  Combining these with controlled structure polymers which are easily prepared using the latest polymerization techniques3,4 brings about an opportunity to produce macromolecular structures with tuneable functionality. The student will develop a series of photo switchable ditopic hydrogen-bonding motifs that are capable of switching molecular recognition preference in response to light (Fig. 1b). These will be incorporated into a range of polymers to permit the assembly and disassembly into supramolecular block-copolymers mediated by light as demonstrated through state of the art materials characterization techniques. This work is multidisciplinary and the successful candidate will work closely with a postdoctoral research associate as part of a team. The candidate will be situated within the School of Chemistry and Chemical and Process Engineering. The PhD candidate will gain skills in small molecule and polymer chemistry, photochemistry, supramolecular chemistry and materials characterization (incl. 2D NMR and x-ray scattering).

Entry requirements and application procedure The post is funded by The Leverhulme Trust; applications are invited from candidates with, or expecting, a minimum of the equivalent of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1) in a relevant discipline, a Master's degree in a relevant discipline, or both. Please contact Dr Nick Warren (N.Warren@leeds.ac.uk) Prof. Andy Wilson (A.J.Wilson@leeds.ac.uk) for further details about this opportunity. Further information on the application procedure can be found at:




  1. H. M. Coubrough, S. C. C. van der Lubbe, K. Hetherington, A. Minard, C. Pask, M. J. Howard, C. Fonseca Guerra, A. J. Wilson, Supramolecular Self-Sorting Networks using Hydrogen-Bonding Motifs, Chem. Eur. J. 2019, 25, 785.
  2. A. Gooch, N. S. Murphy, N. Thomson, A. J. Wilson, Side-Chain Supramolecular Polymers Employing Conformer Independent Triple Hydrogen Bonding Arrays, Macromolecules, 2013, 46, 9634.
  3. N. J. Warren, S. P. Armes, Polymerization-induced self-assembly of block copolymer nano-objects via RAFT aqueous dispersion polymerization J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 10174.
  4. N. J. Warren, O. O. Mykhaylyk, D. Mahmood, A. J. Ryan, S. P. Armes, RAFT aqueous dispersion polymerization yields poly (ethylene glycol)-based diblock copolymer nano-objects with predictable single phase morphologies, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 1023.


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