Professor, Chemical Engineering

Research interests: hybrid nanocomposites, membranes, catalysts


Professor Leonardo Simon’s research in nanotechnology is to create new properties in polymer based materials. Specifically, he is working with polymer nanocomposites; materials that have morphology controlled at the nanoscale.

Polymer nanocomposites play an important role in improving the performance of food packaging, molded automotive and electronics parts, aircraft interiors, and appliance components. This is due to the fact that a relatively low quantity of nanomaterial loading (< 5%) is capable of improving dramatically the mechanical and thermal properties, gas barrier and fire resistance without affecting optical properties, increasing density, or difficulty of processing.

Polymer Electrolyte Membranes (PEMs) are another type of nano-engineered material under investigation in Simon’s lab because of the complex morphology at the nanoscale. PEM’s are responsible for converting hydrogen and oxygen to produce clean energy in hydrogen fuel cells.

Through his research, Simon is trying to gain an understanding of how to control the morphology of hybrid (organic/inorganic) nanocomposites consisting of polymer-clays and polymer-ceramic nanopowders. Both top-down and bottom-up approaches are considered.

Controlling morphology of these materials at nanoscale is a challenge. Clays are layered aluminosilicates that have to be properly exfoliated to achieve the nanoscale. Ceramic nanopowders with individual particle size ranging between 10 to 100 nanometers tend to agglomerate in much larger domains. Simon’s group focuses on the mechanisms of polymerization reaction, chain growth and architecture of macromolecules.

Simon is also a lead investigator in Ontario’s BioCar project which is taking agricultural products, like straw, and processing those as polymer sources to develop plastics that can go into car parts manufacturing. University of Guelph researchers will develop the raw agricultural materials and study crop genetics. Simon will chemically modifying the fibres to obtain new functionality and then transforming these modified fibres into composite resins and polymers at the nano-scale. University of Windsor will incorporate these nanocomposites into automotive parts.


  • PhD, Materials Science, Federal University of Rio Gradne do Sul, Brazil, 2001

  • MChE, Chemical Engineering, Federal University of Rio Gradne do Sul, Brazil, 1997

  • BChE, Chemical Engineering, Federal University of Rio Gradne do Sul, Brazil, 1995

Leonardo Simon

University of Waterloo