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Michael Tam

Professor, Chemical Engineering; University Research Chair

Research interests: sustainable nanomaterials, nano-structured systems for drug/pesticide delivery; polymer-surfactant interactions; magnetic nanoparticles for novel separation processes; functional cellulose nanomaterials for agriculture, biomedical, environmental and personal and homecare applications


My research focuses on the development of functional sustainable nanomaterials (SN) (cellulose nanocrystals, nano-starch, etc) for various advanced engineering applications. Additionally, nano-hybrids consisting of SN and well-defined block copolymers and responsive microgels are produced and utilized as smart delivery vehicles and separation media for agriculture and biomedical systems. My group seeks to advance the application of carbon neutral nanomaterials that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases, such as CO2.

It contains three key parts, (a) controlled polymer synthesis using green chemistry, (b) physical characterization of functional cellulose nanocrystals and microgels, (c) applications in controlled delivery vehicles and purification processes.

The scope of his research includes polymer synthesis using Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization (ATRP), physical characterization using light scattering (static and dynamic), rheometry, and calorimetry (Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC). The objective is to advance the development of novel sustainable nanomaterials by correlating the polymer architecture to the microscopic and macroscopic properties of the nano-hybrid systems.

Professor Michael K.C. Tam studied Chemical Engineering at Monash University, Australia, and graduated with a PhD in 1991. He then spent 18 months on a postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Bob Pelton at the Department of Chemical Engineering, McMaster University, Canada. In 1992, he took up an academic position at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and was promoted to full professor in 2004. He moved to the University of Waterloo in July 2007. He was appointed an associate editor of one of the American Chemical Society journals (ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering) on September 2015. His Google Scholar citation exceeds 16,300 with a H-Index of 65.


  • PhD, Chemical Engineering, Monash University, Australia, 1991
  • BEng, Monash University, Australia

Michael Tam

University of Waterloo