Chemistry research at Reading ranges from fundamental aspects of inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, to areas bordering the life sciences, medicine, engineering and physics. Our research is focused in two strategic priority areas: materials for energy applications and chemistry related to healthcare, which align closely with UKRI priorities and the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
Overall quality profile
Our work is conducted within three research sections:
- Biomedical, Molecular and Analytical Chemistry: Experimental activities encompass synthesis and the development and application of advanced analytical techniques to challenging and complex problems, including those at the chemistry-biology interface. Applications of this work include the remediation of nuclear waste, flow chemistry in the synthesis of bioactive molecules, and novel mass-spectrometric techniques applied to a range of health-related problems.
- Materials and Interfaces for the Future: The core activities of this group revolve around experimental solid-state chemistry in the synthesis and evaluation of new functional materials, with a particular emphasis on novel, high-performance thermoelectric materials. This is complemented by expertise in surface chemistry and by computational simulation of materials that encompasses photocatalysts, thermoelectrics and electron-phonon structure and transport in solids.
- Soft Matter: Polymer chemistry is a core research element, with interdisciplinary collaboration leading to the development of polymer films with controlled spectral response for use in horticulture, and work on polymer design contributing to 3D printing design in a range of industrial sectors. Further work in stimuli-responsive polymers and the potential of these materials in detection and sensing offers a means of detecting chemical agents, fumigants and pesticides without the need for instrumental techniques.
Recent large funding awards have been received for work on DNA complexation and gene editing immunotherapy; the development of high-speed diagnostics for large population screening; work on materials related to energy harvesting with the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source Facility and international partners at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory; and a collaborative project exploring new affordable thermoelectric materials for energy harvesting from traditional Indian cook stoves.
Staff and doctoral students
We submitted 18 staff in UOA8 (15.9 FTE), comprising 8 Professors, 7 Associate Professors and 3 Lecturers.
Over the assessment period for REF2021, 75 students were awarded their doctorate. We typically have about 30 PhD students at any time (from 11 countries in 2019/20). We support our research students through membership of the NERC-funded SCENARIO DTP.
Research centres and partnerships
- Supramolecular Photocatalytic Water Splitting (PERSPECT H2O), involving 21 international groups (EU-funded, 2012-16)
- Cost-effective Energy Recovery for the Fuel Economy of Vehicles, partnership with Loughborough, Cardiff and 5 industry partners (EPSRC, 2013-16)
- Providing a Nuclear Fuel Cycle in the UK for Implementing Carbon Reductions (PACIFIC) consortium of 12 universities (EPSRC, 2013-19)
- Synthetic Biology of Diterpenoids, partnership with York, Cambridge, GSK, Croda, Unilever (BBSRC, 2015-20)
- Formulation for 3D Printing: Creating a plug and play platform for a disruptive UK industry collaboration between 15 academic and 5 industrial partners (EPSRC, 2016-21)
- Accident ToLerANT fuels In reCycling (ATLANTIC) consortium of 12 universities (EPSRC, 2018-23)
- Materials and Molecular Modelling (MMM) Hub is a partnership, involving 9 UK universities, to operate the national supercomputer facility named Young (EPSRC, 2019, 2021)
Selected examples of national and international recognition between 2014 and 2020:
- Professor Christine Cardin: Royal Society of Chemistry Rita and John Cornforth Award (2016)
- Professor Howard Colquhoun: President's Medal, Materials Chemistry Division of RSC (2016)
- Professor Ian Hamley: Macro Group UK Medal for Polymer Science, Royal Society of Chemistry/Society of Chemical Industry (2016); Royal Society of Chemistry Peter Day Award (2016); Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award (2011-16)
Impact case studies
Examples of the impact our research has had at local, national and global levels.