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Paul Topham - Aston University. Birmingham, , GB

Paul Topham Paul Topham

Professor, Chemical Eng & Applied Chemistry | Aston University


Professor Topham is the Head of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry (CEAC).


Professor Topham is the Head of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry (CEAC), Guest Professor at the South China University of Technology (SCUT), Guangzhou, P.R. China, Secretary of the IUPAC Subcommittee on Polymer Terminology (SPT), Chartered Chemist (CChem), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). He joined the Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry subject group as Aston in August 2008 as a Lecturer in Chemistry, became a Senior Lecturer in August 2012, a Reader in Polymer Chemistry in August 2013 and a Full Professor in August 2017.

In addition to the above, he has been awarded the prestigious position of representing Hydrogen in the Periodic Table of Younger Chemists for the celebration of IUPAC100 and IYPT (2019): https://iupac.org/100/pt-of-chemist/, was the MacroGroup UK Young Researchers Medal 2014recipient and is member of the Soft Matter Panel for the Diamond Light Source.

Following the completion of a PhD in 2006 with Professor Anthony J Ryan OBE, he undertook a post-doctoral research position working for Unilever, under the supervision of Professor Steve Armes.

Professor Topham’s research focuses on the synthesis, development and application of well-defined polymer systems, including “smart” polymers, biocompatible and biodegradable materials and tethered polymer brushes, within the Advanced Materials Research Unit at Aston University. Controlled polymerisation techniques are combined with synthetic organic chemistry to fabricate novel (co)polymers, which display varying phenomena, depending on the material itself and the environment in which it is placed. Characterisation techniques of their nanoscale behaviour involve x-ray scattering and neutron reflectivity amongst more traditional methods. Current research interests include microphase separation (polymer self-assembly), triggerable materials, biopolymers and biodegradable polymers, biomaterials, electrospinning (nanofibrous fabrics) and organic solar cells.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Tethered Polymer Brushes

Biodegradable Materials

Polymer Systems

Biocompatible Materials

Smart Polymer Materials

Accomplishments (1)

Aston University Early Career Researcher of the Year (professional)


Education (3)

University of Sheffield: MChem 2002

University of Sheffield: PhD, Polymer Science 2006

Aston University: Postgraduate Certificate, Professional Practice in Higher Education 2010

Affiliations (2)

  • Higher Education Academy : Senior Fellow
  • Royal Society of Chemistry : Fellow

Articles (5)

Improved Performance and Stability of Organic Solar Cells by the Incorporation of a Block Copolymer Interfacial Layer

Advanced Materials Interfaces

In a proof‐of‐concept study, this work demonstrates that incorporating a specifically designed block copolymer as an interfacial layer between a charge transport layer and the photoactive layer in organic solar cells can enhance the interface between these layers leading to both performance and stability improvements of the device. This is achieved by incorporating a P3HT50‐b‐PSSx block copolymer as an interfacial layer between the hole transporting and photoactive layers, which results in the improvement of the interfacial roughness, energy level alignment, and stability between these layers.

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Microwave‐assisted synthesis of levulinic acid from low‐cost, sustainable feedstocks using organic acids as green catalysts

Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology

Modern day scientific endeavour strives towards global sustainability through the smart utilisation of renewable resources as base materials for chemicals. Until now, the most common commercial process to produce levulinic acid (a mass‐produced platform chemical) depends on a two‐stage mineral acid‐catalysed reaction, which generates harmful environmental waste. In this work, an environmentally friendly levulinic acid production route using less harmful organic acids assisted by microwave heating from biomass feedstocks is reported for the first time.

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The influence of structure and morphology on ion permeation in commercial silicone hydrogel contact lenses

Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B: Applied Biomaterials

The importance of the microstzructure of silicone hydrogels is widely appreciated but is poorly understood and minimally investigated. To ensure comfort and eye health, these materials must simultaneously exhibit both high oxygen and high water permeability. In contrast with most conventional hydrogels, the water content and water structuring within silicone hydrogels cannot be solely used to predict permeability. The materials achieve these opposing requirements based on a composite of nanoscale domains of oxygen‐permeable (silicone) and water‐permeable hydrophilic components.

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Physical and thermal properties of l‐lactide/ϵ‐caprolactone copolymers: the role of microstructural design

Polymer International

Understanding the underlying role of microstructural design in polymers allows for the manipulation and control of properties for a wide range of specific applications. As such, this work focuses on the study of microstructure–property relationships in l‐lactide/ϵ‐caprolactone (LL/CL) copolymers. One‐step and two‐step bulk ring‐opening polymerization (ROP) procedures were employed to synthesize LL/CL copolymers of various compositions and chain microstructures. In the one‐step procedure, LL and CL were simultaneously copolymerized to yield P(LL‐stat‐CL) statistical copolymers.

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Design, synthesis and RAFT polymerisation of a quinoline-based monomer for use in metal-binding composite microfibers

RSC advances

Metal-binding polymer fibres have attracted major attention for diverse applications in membranes for metal sequestration from waste waters, non-woven wound dressings, matrices for photocatalysis, and many more. This paper reports the design and synthesis of an 8-hydroxyquinoline-based zinc-binding styrenic monomer, QuiBoc. Its subsequent polymerisation by reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) yielded well-defined polymers, PQuiBoc, of controllable molar masses (6 and 12 kg mol -1 ) with low dispersities (M w /M n < 1.3).

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