Professor Simon’s research interests include the following:
Polymer Nanocomposites. New materials which involve blends or mixtures of nano-sized ceramic units, nanoparticles and nanotubes with plastics (thermoset, thermoplastic and elastomer) are also being investigated. This is usually via the melt blending, in situ polymerization or solution blending methods. Modification of the nanotubes is also being undertaken. Such materials are useful in medical applications, opto-electronic devices, in gas separation membranes and to toughen thermosets. Our focus at the moment is particularly on functional nanocomposites using magnetic nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes for properties such as electrical conductivity and electron emission. We are also producing nanostructured materials using electropolymerisation for similar reasons. We are also looking at novel nanocomposites, particularly using sustainable polymers, and ionic liquids which can be classified as “green” solvents.
Dendritic Materials. Both dendrimers and hyperbranched materials are being investigated in terms of their homopolymer structure-property relationships and in combination with other thermoplastic and thermoset materials as processing aids and toughening agents, and in nanocomposites
Polymer Blends. Properties of polymer blends and their interfaces are being studied in a number of ways such as with regard to their dielectric mobility and free volume properties. Blends include those of plastics, blends with liquid crystalline polymers and with ceramics, often for biomedical applications.
Thermosets and Their Toughening. Research is continuing into cure monitoring (such as by infrared and dielectric relaxation) of crosslinked polymers. They are being toughened by addition of thermoplastic phases and core-shell particles – for ultimate use as aerospace materials.
Electrospinning of Nanofibers . The technique of electrospinning is looking at making new nano-dimensional functional materials for a range of applications from mechanical to biomedical, using a range of materials and techniques. In particular, we are interested in biomimetic (bimimicry) types of stuctures with multiple layers of material (polymer and nanoparticles) to produce enhanced mechanical and biomaterials properties.