Michael K.C. Tam

University Research Chair & Professor

Contact InformationMichael K.C. Tam

Phone: 519-888-4567 x38339
Location: QNC 5617


Biography Summary

Michael K.C. Tam is a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and a University Research Chair at the University of Waterloo.

His research focuses on the microscopic and macroscopic properties of nanomaterials, self-assembly systems such as surfactants, block copolymers, and associative polymers. The scope of his work includes polymer synthesis using atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), physical characterization using light scattering (static and dynamic), rheometry, and calorimetry (ITC and DSC). Professor Tam aims to correlate the polymer architecture to the microscopic and macroscopic properties of novel self-assembly systems. The potential applications of his research are in water purification, oil and gas, bio and chemical separations, personal and home care products and environmentally friendly coating systems.

Professor Tam is also conducting research on the field of sustainable nano materials from renewable resources. In collaboration with Celluforce Inc., a company that operates the first cellulose nanocrystals pilot plant production facility, he aims to functionalize cellulose nanocrystals for water treatment, cosmetics, personal care, coatings and food, among other purposes.

In recognition of his research work, Professor Tam was presented with the Harold Jan Shoemaker Award for the best paper published in the Journal of Hydraulic Research between 1990 and 1992. Additionally in 2005, Professor Tam was the recipient of the Tan Chin Tuan Fellowship from the Physical Chemistry Division at Lund University in Sweden.

Research Interests

  • Biochemical & Biomedical
  • enhanced drug delivery systems
  • Polymer Science
  • Nanotechnology
  • Water-soluble fullerene systems
  • Responsive self-assembly systems
  • Magnetic nanoparticles for separation processes
  • Atom transfer radical polymerization
  • Stimuli responsive polymeric systems
  • Interfacial Phenomena
  • Colloids & Porous Media
  • Sustainable Nanomaterials
  • Associative polymers for environmentally friendly coatings
  • Magnetic nanoparticles for novel separation processes
  • Cellulose nanocrystals
  • Polymer-surfactant interactions
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Water
  • Separation Processes


  • 1991, Doctorate, Chemical Engineering, Monash University
  • 1982, Bachelor's, Chemical Engineering, Monash University


  • CHE 100 - Chemical Eng'g Concepts 1
    • Taught in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • CHE 745 - Res. Tpcs in Polymer Science
    • Taught in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • NANO 701 - Fundamentals of Nano
    • Taught in 2016
  • NANO 702 - Nanotechnology Tools
    • Taught in 2016
  • NE 335 - Soft Nanomaterials
    • Taught in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Tang, J.; Javaida, M.U.; Pan, C.Y.; Yu, G.P.; Berry, R.M.; Tam, K.C., Self-healing stimuli-responsive cellulose nanocrystal hydrogels, Carbohydrate Polymers, (2020), 10.1016/j.carbpol.2019.115486 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Tang, C.; Brodie, P.; Li, Y.Z.; Grishkewich, N.J.; Brunsting, M.; Tam, K.C., Shape Recoverable and Mechanically Robust Cellulose Aerogel Beads for Efficient Removal of Copper ions, Chemical Engineering Journal (2020), 124821 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Silva, C.E.P.; Tam, K.C.; Bernardes, J.S.; Loh, W., Double stabilization mechanism of O/W Pickering emulsions using cationic nanofibrillated cellulose, J. Colloid & Interfacial Science, (2020), 574, 207-216 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Nasseri, R.; Lee, Y.B.; Tam, K.C., Interfacial Control of the Synthesis of Cellulose Nanocrystal Gold Nanoshells, Langmuir, (2020), 36, 11215–11224 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Song, M.L.; Yu, H.Y.; Zhu, J.Y.; Ouyang, Z.F.; Abdalkarim, S.Y.H.; Tam, K.C.; Li, Y.Z., Constructing stimuli-free self-healing, robust and ultrasensitive biocompatible hydrogel sensors with conductive cellulose nanocrystals, Chemical Engineering Journal, (2020), 398, 125547 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Chen, L.M.; Yu, H.Y.; Deutschman, C.; Yang, T.; Tam, K.C., Novel design of Fe-Cu alloy coated cellulose nanocrystals with strong antibacterial ability and efficient Pb2+ removal, Carbohydrate Polymers, (2020), 234, 115889 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Tam, K. C.; Meier, M.A.R.; Zhang, L.; Allen, D.T.; Licence, P.; Subramaniam, B., Expectations for Papers on Sustainable Materials in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., (2020), 8, 1703 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Chen, Y.X.; Abdalkarim, S.Y.H.; Yu, H.Y.; Li, Y.Z.; Xu, J.X.; Marek, J.; Yao, J.M.; Tam, K.C., Double stimuli-responsive cellulose nanocrystals reinforced electrospun PHBV composites membrane for intelligent drug release, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules (2020), 155, 330-339 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Tang, C.; Brodie, P.; Brunsting, M.; Tam, K.C., Carboxylated Cellulose Cryogel Beads via a One-step Ester Crosslinking of Maleic Anhydride for Copper Ions Removal, Carbohydrate Polymers (2020), 242, 116397 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Alharthi, S.; Grishkewich, N.; Berry, R.M.; Tam, K.C., Functional cellulose nanocrystals containing cationic and thermo-responsive polymer brushes, Carbohydrate Polymers, (2020), 246, 116651 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Ashrafizadeh, M.; Tam, K.C.; Javadi, A.; Abdollahi, M.; Sadeghnejad, S.; Bahramian, A., Dual Physically and Chemically Cross-Linked Polyelectrolyte Nanohydrogels: Compositional and pH-Dependent Behavior Studies, European Polym. J., (2020), 122, 1093982 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Zhao, F.P.; Yang, Z.Q.; Wei, Z.S.; Spinney, R.; Sillanpää, M.; Tang, J.; Tam, K.C.; Xiao, R.Y., Polyethylenimine-modified chitosan materials for the recovery of La(III) from leachates of bauxite residue, Chemical Engineering Journal (2020), 388, 124307. (Accepted in 2020)
  • Jardin, J.M.; Zhang, Z.; Hu, G.; Tam, K.C.; Mekonnen, T.H., Reinforcement of rubber nanocomposite thin sheets by percolation of pristine cellulose nanocrystals, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules (2020), 152, 428-436 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Tang, F.; Yu, H.Y.; Abdalkarim, S.Y.H.; Xu, J.X.; Fan, F.M.; Li, Y.Z.; Zhou, Y.; Tam, K.C., Green acid-free hydrolysis of wasted pomelo peel to produce carboxylated cellulose nanofibers with super absorption/flocculation ability for environmental remediation materials, Chemical Engineering Journal, (2020), 395, 125070 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Tang, J.; Li, Y.; Song, Y.; Wu, X.Y.; Yu, G.P.; Tam, K.C., Carbodiimide coupling versus click chemistry for nanoparticle surface functionalization: A comparative study for the encapsulation of sodium cholate by cellulose nanocrystals modified with β-cyclodextrin, Carbohydrate Polymers, (2020), 244, 1166512 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Peng,P.L.; Yao, Z.L.; Wang, X.C.; Crombeen, M.; Gsweene, D.; Tam, K.C., Cellulose-based Materials in Wastewater Treatment of Petroleum Industry, Green Energy & Environment, (2020), 5, 37-49, 10.1016/j.gee.2019.09.003 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Li, Y.Y.; Sun. B.W.; Lin, H.F.; Ruan, Q.Q.; Geng, Y.L.; Liu, J.; Wang, H.; Yang, Y.; Wang, L.; Tam, K.C., Efficient visible-light induced H2 evolution from T-CdxZn1-xS/defective MoS2 nano-hybrid with both bulk twinning homojunctions and interfacial heterostructures, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, (2020), 267, 118702 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Nasseri, R.; Deutschman, C.P.; Han, L.; Pope, M.A.; Tam, K.C., Cellulose nanocrystals in smart and stimuli-responsive materials: a review, Materials Today Advances, (2020), 5, 100055 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Chen, J.X.; Yang, R.M. Ou, J.F.; Tang, C.; Xiang. M.; Wu, D.F; Tang, J.; Tam, K.C., Functionalized Cellulose Nanocrystals As the Performance Regulators of Poly(beta-hydroxybutyrate-co-valerate) Biocomposites, Carbohydrate Polymers (2020), 242, 116399 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Nasseri, R.; Tam, K.C., Stimuli-responsive hydrogel consisting of hydrazide-functionalized poly(oligo(ethylene glycol)methacrylate) and dialdehyde cellulose nanocrystals, Materials Advances, (2020), 1, 1631-1643 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Grishkewich, N.; Mohammed, N.; Wei, S.; Vasudev, M.; Shi, Z.; Berry, R.M.; Tam, K.C., Dye Removal Using Sustainable Membrane Adsorbents Produced from Melamine Formaldehyde−Cellulose Nanocrystals and Hard Wood Pulp, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., (2020), 10.1021/acs.iecr.0c04033 (Accepted in 2020)
  • Zhang, B.Y.; Zhang, Z.; Kapar, S.; Ataeian, P.; Bernardes, J.; Berry, R.; Zhao, W.; Zhou, G.; Tam, K.C., Microencapsulation of phase change materials with polystyrene/cellulose nanocrystal hybrid shell via Pickering emulsion polymerization, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., (2019), 7, 17756-17767 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Zhang, K.X.; Du, Y.; Si, Z.Y.; Liu, Y.; Turvey, M.E.; Raju, C.; Keogh, D.; Ruan, L.; Jothy, S.L.; Reghu, S.; Marimuthu, K.; De, P.P.; Ng, T.K.; Mediavilla, J.R.; Kreiswirth, B.N.; Chi, Y.G.R.; Ren, J.H.; Tam, K.C.; Liu, X.W.; Duan, H.W.; Zhu, Y.B.; Mu, Y.G.; Hammond, P.T.; Bazan, G.C.; Pethe, K.; Chan-Park, M.B., Enantiomeric glycosylated cationic block co-beta-peptides eradicate Staphylococcus aureus biofilms and antibiotic-tolerant persisters, Nature Communications, (2019), 10, 1-14 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Baek, J.; Wahid-Pedro, F.; Kim, K.Y.; Kim, K.Y.; Tam, K.C., Phosphorylated-CNC/Modified-Chitosan Complexes for the Stabilization of Pickering Emulsions, Carbohydrate Polymers (2019), 206, 520–527. (Accepted in 2019)
  • Li, Y.Z.; Grishkewich, N.; Liu, L.L.; Wang, C. Tam, K.C.; Mao, Z.P.; Wang, B.J.; Sui, X.F., Construction of functional cellulose aerogels via atmospheric drying chemically cross-linked and solvent exchanged cellulose nanofibrils, Chemical Engineering Journal (2019), 366, 531-538. (Accepted in 2019)
  • Li, Y.Z.; Zhu, L.Q.; Grishkewich, N.; Tam, K.C.; Yuan, J.Y.; Mao, Z.P.; Sui, X.F., CO2-responsive cellulose aerogels for switchable oil-water separation, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, (2019), 11, 9, 9367-9373 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Abdalkarim, S.Y.H.; Yu, H.Y.; Wang, C.; Chen, Y.X.; Zou, Z.Y.; Han, L.; Yao, J.M.; Tam, K.C., Thermo and light-responsive phase change nanofibers with high energy storage efficiency for energy storage and thermally regulated on–off drug release devices, Chemical Engineering Journal (2019), 375, 121979 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Ashrafizadeh, M.; Tam, K.C.; Javadi, A.; Abdollahi, M.; Sadeghnejad, S.; Bahramian, A., Synthesis and physicochemical properties of dual-responsive acrylic acid/butyl acrylate cross-linked nanogel systems, J. Colloid & Interfacial Science, (2019), 556, 313-323 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Han, L.; Cui, S.B.; Yu, H.Y.; Song, M.L.; Zhang, H.Y.; Grishkewich, N.; Huang, C.G.; Kim, D.S.; Tam, K.C., Self-healable Conductive Nanocellulose Nanocomposites for Biocompatible Electronic Skin Sensor System, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (2019), 11, 44642-44651 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Brinatti, C.; Akhlaghi, P.; Pires-Oliveira, R.; Bernardinelli, O.; Berry, R.; Tam, K.C.; Loh, W., Controlled coagulation and redispersion of thermo-responsive poly di(ethylene oxide) methyl ether methacrylate grafted cellulose nanocrystals, J. Colloid & Interfacial Science, (2019), 538, 51–61. (Accepted in 2019)
  • Zhang, F.F.; Islam, M. S.; Berry, R.; Tam, K.C.; β-Cyclodextrin-functionalized Cellulose Nanocrystals and Their Interactions with Surfactants, ACS Omega (2019), 4, 1, 2102-2110 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Song, M.L.; Yu, H.Y.; Chen, L.M.; Zhu, J.Y.; Wang, Y.Y.; Yao, J.M.; Zou, Z.Y.; Tam, K.C., Multi-branch strategy to decorate carboxyl groups on cellulose nanocrystals to prepare adsorbent/flocculants and Pickering emulsions, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2019), 7, 6969-6980 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Wang, D.C.; Yu, H.Y.; Qi, D.M.; Mohankandhasamy, R.; Yao, J.M.; Tang, F.; Tam, K.C.; Ni, Q.Q., Supramolecular Self-assembly of 3D Conductive Cellulose Nanofiber Aerogels for Flexible Supercapacitors and Ultrasensitive Sensors, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, (2019), 11, 24435-24446 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Zhu, J.Y.; Chen, Y.X.; Yu, H.Y.; Guan, Y.; Zhou, Y.; Cui, S.B.; Zou, Z.Y.; Tam, K.C., Comprehensive Insight into Degradation Mechanism of Biopolyester Nanocomposites Using Functionalized Cellulose Nanocrystals, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., (2019), 7, 15537-15547 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Fan, F.M.; Yu, H.Y.; Wang, D.C.; Mao, Z.H.; Yao, J.M.; Lin, H.T.; Tang, C.X.; Tam, K.C., Designing Highly Luminescent Cellulose Nanocrystals with Modulated Morphology for Multifunctional Bioimaging Materials, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (2019), 11, 51, 48192-48201, 10.1021/acsami.9b13687 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Islam, M. S., Tan, J.P.K., Kwok, C.Y., Tam, K.C., Drug release kinetics of pH-responsive microgels of different glass transition temperatures, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, (2019), 136 (13), 47284 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Yu, H.Y.; Abdalkarim, S.Y.H.; Zhang, H.; Wang, C.; Tam, K.C., Simple Process To Produce High-Yield Cellulose Nanocrystals Using Recyclable Citric/Hydrochloric Acids, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2019), 7, 4912-4923 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Tang, C.X.; Li, Y.; Pun, P.; Mohamed Osman, A.S.; Tam, K.C., Polydopamine Microcapsules from Cellulose Nanocrystal Stabilized Pickering Emulsions for Essential Oil and Pesticide Encapsulation, Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects (2019), 570, 403-413. (Accepted in 2019)
  • Chen, L.M.; Yu, H.Y.; Wang, D.C.; Yang, T.; Yao, J.M.; Tam, K.C., Simple Synthesis of Flower-like Manganese Dioxide nanostructures on Cellulose Nanocrystal for High-Performance Supercapacitor and wearable electrodes, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., (2019), 7, 11823-11831 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Li, F.; Yu, H.Y.; Wang, Y.Y.; Zhou, Y.; Zhang, H.; Yao, J.M.; Abdalkarim, S.Y.H.; Tam, K.C., Natural Biodegradable poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) Nanocomposites with Multi-functional Cellulose Nanocrystals/Graphene Oxide Hybrids for High-performance Food Packaging, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2019), 67 10954-10967 (Cover page) doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.9b03110 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Fan, F.M.; Yu, H.Y.; Wang, D.C.; Mao, Z.H.; Yao, J.M.; Tam, K.C., Facile and green synthesis of carboxylated cellulose nanocrystals as efficient adsorbents in wastewater treatments, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., (2019), 7, 18067-18075 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Zhang, Z., Wang, X.S., Tam, K.C., Sèbe, G., A comparative study on grafting polymers from cellulose nanocrystals via surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and activator re-generated by electron transfer ATRP, Carbohydrate Polymers (2019), 205, 322-329 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Tang, J.; Song, Y.; Spinney, S.B.; Bernardes, J.; Tam, K.C., Compressible cellulose nanofibril (CNF) based aerogels produced via a bio-inspired strategy for heavy metal ion and dye removal, Carbohydrate Polymers (2019), 208, 404-412. (Accepted in 2019)
  • Zhang, Z.; Zhang, B.Y.; Grishkewich, N.; Berry, R.; Tam, K.C., Cinnamate-Functionalized Cellulose Nanocrystals as UV-Shielding Nanofillers in Sunscreen and Transparent Polymer Films, Advanced Sustainable Systems, (2019), 3, 1800156 1800156 adsu.201800156-Cover page (Accepted in 2019)
  • Tang, C.; Cheng, Y.M.; Luo, J.H.; Low, M.Y., Shi, Z.; Tang, J.; Zhang, Z., Peng, B.L.; Tam, K.C., Pickering emulsions stabilized by hydrophobically modified nanocellulose containing various structural characteristics, Cellulose (2019), 26, 7753-7767 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Zhang, Z.; Cheng, M.; San Gabriel, M.L.; Neto, Â.A.; Bernardes, J.; Berry, R.; Tam, K.C., Polymeric Hollow Microcapsules (PHM) Via Templated Pickering Emulsions Stabilized by Cellulose Nanocrystals, J. Colloid & Interfacial Science, (2019), 555, 489-497 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Islam, M. S., Chen L., Sisler, J., Tam, K.C., Cellulose Nanocrystal (CNC) – Inorganic Hybrid Systems: Synthesis, Properties and Applications, Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 2018, 6, 864-883 (Cover page) (Accepted in 2018)
  • Peng, P.L., Tang, J., Wang, P.M., Luo, J.H., Xiao, P.W., Lin, Y.P., Tam, K.C., Rheological properties of cellulose nanocrystal-polymeric systems, Cellulose (2018), 25 (6), 3229-3240 (Accepted in 2018)
  • Lei, Q., Peng, P.L., Ma, K.K.Y., Zhang, Z., Wang, X.C., Luo, J.H., Tam, K.C., ARGET ATRP of triblock copolymers (PMMA-b-PEO-b-PMMA) and their microstructure in aqueous solution, ACS Omega (2018), 3, 15996−16004. (Accepted in 2018)
  • Peng, P.L., Tang, J., Luo, J.H., Wang, P.M., Ding, P., Tam, K.C., Applications of Nanotechnology in Oil and Gas Industry: Progress and Perspective, Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, (2018), 96, 91–100. (Accepted in 2018)
  • Zhang, Z., Tam, K.C., Wang, X.S., Sèbe, G., Inverse Pickering Emulsions Stabilized by Cinnamate Modified Cellulose Nanocrystals as Templates to Prepare Silica Colloidosomes, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 2018, 6 (2), 2583-2590 (Accepted in 2018)
  • Tang, C., Spinney, S., Shi, Z., Tang, J., Luo, J.H., Peng, B.L., Tam, K.C., Patchy cellulose nanocrystals for enhanced Pickering emulsion stabilization, Langmuir, (2018), 34, 12897-12905 (Accepted in 2018)
  • Zhang, Z., Sèbe, G., Wang, X.S., Tam, K.C., Gold Nanoparticles Stabilized by Poly(4-vinylpyridine) Grafted Cellulose Nanocrystals as Efficient and Recyclable Catalysts, Carbohydrate Polymers, 2018, 182, 61-68 (Accepted in 2018)
  • Mohammed N., Grishkewich, N., Tam, K.C., Cellulose Nanomaterials: Promising Sustainable Nanomaterials for Water Treatment Applications, Environmental Science: Nano, (2018), 5, 623-658 (Inside cover page) (Accepted in 2018)
  • Awan, F., Islam, M. S., Ma, Y.Y., Yang, C., Shi, Z., Berry, R.M., Tam, K.C., Cellulose Nanocrystal–ZnO Nanohybrids for Controlling Photocatalytic Activity and UV Protection in Cosmetic Formulation, ACS Omega, (2018), 3, 12403-12411 (Accepted in 2018)
  • Zhang, Z., Sèbe, G., Wang, X.S., Tam, K.C., UV-Absorbing Cellulose Nanocrystals as Functional Reinforcing Fillers in Poly(vinyl chloride) Films, ACS Applied Nano Materials (2018), 1, 632-641 (Accepted in 2018)
  • Wu Y., Zhi, Lin Y.W., Wenger A.C., Tam K.C., Tang X.S., 3-D bioprinting of liver-mimetic construct with alginate/cellulose nanocrystal hybrid bioink, Bioprinting, (2018), 9, 1-6. (Accepted in 2018)
  • Zhang, Z., Tam, K.C., Sèbe, G., Wang, X.S., Convenient characterization of polymers grafted on cellulose nanocrystals via SI-ATRP without chain cleavage, Carbohydrate Polymers (2018), 199 603-609 (Accepted in 2018)
  • Tian, Y and Grishkewich, N and Bromberg, L and Hatton, T Alan and Tam, Kam C, Cross-linked Pluronic-g-Polyacrylic acid microgel system for the controlled release of doxorubicin in pharmaceutical formulations, European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 114, 2017, 230 - 238
  • Zhao, Feiping and Repo, Eveliina and Song, Yang and Yin, Dulin and Hammouda, Samia Ben and Chen, Li and Kalliola, Simo and Tang, Juntao and Tam, Kam C and Sillanpää, Mika, Polyethylenimine-cross-linked cellulose nanocrystals for highly efficient recovery of rare earth elements from water and a mechanism study, Green Chemistry, 19(20), 2017, 4816 - 4828

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