We are an organic polymer chemistry research group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Our research interests include: (i) macromolecular brush materials (polymer brushes on flat substrates, hairy particles/brush particles, and bottlebrush polymers), (ii) stimuli-responsive nonionic and zwitterionic polymers, (iii) chiral ferroelectric liquid crystalline polymers, and (iv) polymer adsorbents for removal of toxic persistent oxyanions from water. These polymeric systems are designed for answering fundamental questions, elucidating structure-behavior/property relationships, and exploring specific applications. State-of-the-art synthetic organic chemistry and polymer chemistry tools are used to prepare these polymeric materials. Our research involves organic synthesis, polymer science, materials chemistry, surface and colloidal chemistry, and environmental chemistry.
Postdoc, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ph.D., Polymer Science, University of Akron
Awards and Recognitions
Paul and Wilma Ziegler Professorship, University of Tennessee
Senior Award for Excellence in Research/Creative Achievements, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Tennessee
Polymer Science Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Akron
Chancellor’s Award for Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement, University of Tennessee
Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, Oak Ridge Associated Universities
Wilk, J. T.; Chancellor, A. J.; Mei, S.; Qian, Q.; Zhao, B.; Li, C. Y. Fabrication of Surface Polymer Brushes via Thin Film Crystallization and Solvent Annealing. Macromol. Rapid Commun. 2023, 2300036.
Kwok, M.-H., Huang, J. H.; Rui, G. C.; Bohannon, C. A.; Li, R. P.; Zhang, H. H.; Zhao, B.; Zhu, L. Achieving High Permittivity Paraelectric Behavior in Mesogen-free Sulfonylated Polyethers with Smectic C Liquid Crystalline Self-assembly. Macromolecules 2023, 56(5), 1863-1874.
Gao, L. F.; Mei, S; Qian, Q.; Yu, S. C.; Zhao, B.; Tu, Y. F.; Li, C. Y. Crystallization-Driven Nanoparticle Crystalsomes. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2023, 62, e202217267.
Bohannon, C. A.; Kwok, M.-H.; Huang, J. H.; Rui, G. C.; Li, R. P.; Zhu, L., Zhao, B. Smectic C Self-Assembly in Mesogen-Free Liquid Crystalline Chiral Polyethers with Sulfonylated Methyl-Branched Side Chains. Macromolecular Rapid Communications 2022, 2200501.
Kelly, M. T.; Kent, E. W.; Zhao, B. Stepwise Conformational Transitions of Stimuli-Responsive Linear Ternary Heterografted Bottlebrush Polymers in Aqueous Solution. Macromolecules 2022, 55(5), 1629-1641.
Bohannon, C. A.; Chancellor, A. J.; Kelly, M. T.; Le, T. T.; Zhu, L.; Li, C. Y.; Zhao, B. Adaptable Multivalent Hairy Inorganic Nanoparticles. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143(41), 16919–16924.
Lewoczko, E. M.; Kelly, M. T.; Kent, E. W.; Zhao, B. Effects of Temperature on Chaotropic Anion-Induced Shape Transitions of Star Molecular Bottlebrushes with Heterografted Poly(ethylene oxide) and Poly(N,N-dialkylaminoethyl methacrylate) Side Chains in Acidic Water. Soft Matter 2021, 17, 6566-6579.
Zhao, B. Shape-Changing Bottlebrush Polymers. J. Phys. Chem. B 2021, 125(24), 6373-6389.
Lewoczko, E. M.; Wang, N.; Lundberg, C. E.; Kelly, M. T.; Kent, E. W.; Wu, T.; Chen, M.-L.; Wang, J.-H.; Zhao, B. Effects of N-Substituents on Solution Behavior of Poly(sulfobetaine methacrylate)s in Water: UCST and LCST. ACS Applied Polymer Materials 2021, 3, 867-878.
Kent, E. W.; Lewoczko, E. M.; Zhao, B. pH- and Chaotropic Anion-Induced Conformational Changes of Tertiary Amine-Containing Binary Heterografted Star Molecular Bottlebrushes in Aqueous Solution. Polymer Chemistry 2021, 12, 265-276.
Kent, E. W.; Lewoczko, E. M.; Zhao, B. Effect of Buffer Anions on Pearl-Necklace Morphology of Tertiary Amine-Containing Binary Heterografted Linear Molecular Bottlebrushes in Acidic Aqueous Buffers. Langmuir 2020, 36, 13320-13330.
Bohannon, C. A.; Kwok, M.-H.; Li, R. P.; Zhu, L.; Zhao, B. Effects of Tacticity and Chiral Center-to-Dipole Distance on Mesogen-Free Liquid Crystalline Self-Assembly of Sulfonyl-Containing Comb-like Polymers. Polymer Chemistry 2020, 11, 3018-3031.
Qi, H.; Liu, X. T.; Henn, D. M.; Mei, S.; Staub, M. C.; Zhao, B.; Li, C. Y. Breaking Translational Symmetry via Polymer Chain Overcrowding in Molecular Bottlebrush Crystallization. Nature Communications 2020, 11, 2152.
Lab Address: SERF 217 & 218