University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 888-4567 ext 32215
Fax: (519) 746-8115
Dr. Thompson's research explores block copolymer behaviour using self-consistent field theory (SCFT), one of the best theoretical tools available in soft condensed matter physics. The structures of nanocomposite materials are examined, and nanoscale filler particles are added to the polymer matrix to create hybrid materials. The mechanical properties of both nanocomposite and pure block copolymer systems are also being predicted using the SCFT approach.
Professor Thompson’s group is developing theory for self-assembling, biomimetic membranes that are of interest in drug delivery, nanoreactors and nanoparticle formation. These membranes are made from synthetic polymer molecules and, when they form vesicles (nanometre to micrometre sized compartments, or “bags”), they can potentially be used to carry drugs for distribution in the body. These “polymersomes” have already been shown as effective as nanometre-sized chemical reaction vessels for building nanoparticles. The Thompson group is doing field theory calculations to determine if polymersomes can be improved by sequestering nanoparticles within the membranes; this would mimic naturally forming membranes which often incorporate proteins.
Another project deals with the industrially important polymer property of surface tension and how it is different for nanometre sized structures. Polymer foams are made by injecting gas into a polymer material to make small cells or voids. The resulting product can be lighter, cheaper and have other beneficial properties compared to regular polymer materials. Polymer foams are used in many manufactured products, and it has been observed that when more, smaller voids are used, the products are often improved. A natural extension of this is to try to make a very large number of very small, nanometre-size cells in order to make the best products possible. The behaviour of very small cells can, however, be different from larger ones, and so the Thompson group is using field-theoretic techniques to understand the science of so-called “nanocellular” polymer foams.
“Nanoparticle-regulated behavior of ordered block copolymers”, Soft Matter (Communication) 4, 2008
“Effect of Temperature and Pressure on Surface Tension of Polystyrene in Supercritical Carbon Dioxide”, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2007
“Predicting nonpolymeric materials structure with real-space self-consistent ﬁeld theory”, Physical Review E Rapid Communications 73, 2006
“Origins of elastic properties in ordered block copolymer/nanoparticle composites”, Nanoletters 4, 2004
“Predicting the mesophases of copolymer/nanoparticle composites”, Science 292, #5526, 2001
Please see Dr. Thompson's research website for a complete list of his publications.
PhD, University of Western Ontario
MSc, University of Regina
BSc, University of Ottawa