Smart Materials comprise a variety of polymers including Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) suitable for sensing, assays and separation. MIPs are cross-linked synthetic polymers prepared in the presence of a molecular template, which creates complementary binding sites in the material. The resultant MIPs can be used for selective separations in sample preparations and as replacements for antibodies (plastic antibodies) in cheap and robust chemical sensors and assays.

All our polymers are designed by the aid of computer modelling and can be prepared in a number of formats including particles suitable for solid-phase (SPE) cartridges, soluble nanoparticles, grafted coatings and membranes which can be integrated with a range of sensor platforms.

We have expertise in the computer-aided design of MIPs and polymeric adsorbents, their synthesis, testing and their use for the extraction/sensing of trace analytes, pharmaceuticals, food and environmental toxins, drugs of abuse, and as antimicrobial etc.

Our clients and partners include:

  • European Commission

  • Food Standards Agency

  • Health Protection Agency

  • Industrial Partners in the Diagnostics and Pharmaceutical Sectors

  • Knowledge Transfer Network

  • Knowledge Transfer Partnership

  • Royal Society

  • Innovate UK

  • UK Department of Health

  • UK Home Office

  • Wellcome Trust.

About our research

Our key areas of expertise are:

• Molecularly imprinted polymers
• Computational design of imprinted polymers
• Grafting of MIPs
• MIP nanoparticles
• Development of high capacity adsorbents for separation and purification.

Recent applications of our technology include:

• Development of plastic antibodies for sensors and assays
• Adsorbents for the recovery of pharmaceutical intermediaries and novel products
• Materials for the detection and removal of toxins
• The generation of antimicrobial surfaces.

Our facilities

Our facilities include:

• Computational capabilities for polymers design
• Polymers synthesis and characterisation facilities
• Polymeric nanoparticles synthesis and characterisation facilities
• Several transducer platforms (electrochemical, optical and piezoelectric) for development of sensors.

Working with us

Much of our research aims to find solutions to real-world problems, such as using our technology to improve industrial processes and developing robust and cheap polymer-based sensors and assays for trace analysis of drugs and toxins for medical, environmental and food diagnostics.

Our work is published widely in peer reviewed journals and we have an excellent record of presentations at international conferences and of academic and industrial projects.

There are several ways to work with us ranging from use of postgraduate students to conduct blue sky research or applied research to well defined consultancy projects.

We are willing to collaborate with sponsors on both short feasibility projects to larger research programmes. The work can be focused on open publications outputs or provision of results within standard non-disclosure agreement.