Our research focuses on responsive, functional organic and organic-inorganic hybrid materials, including (i) macromolecular brushes (polymer brushes on flat substrates, hairy particles/brush particles, and bottlebrush polymers), (ii) stimuli-responsive nonionic and zwitterionic polymers, (iii) chiral liquid crystalline polymers for use as electrocaloric materials, 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 demonstrating potential applications. State-of-the-art synthetic organic chemistry and polymer chemistry tools are being employed to create these materials. More information can be found on our group webpage.
Postdoc, Microfluidics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ph.D., Polymer Science, University of Akron
M.S., Polymer Chemistry, University of Science and Technology of China
B.S., Polymer Chemistry, University of Science and Technology of China
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
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