Head of Discipline for Chemistry

Valeria Arrighi


Staff by Sections

Inorganic Chemistry

Alan Welch

Jan-Willem Bos

James Cameron

Scott Dalgarno

Gareth Lloyd

Stuart Macgregor

Stephen Mansell 

Ruaraidh McIntosh

Organic Chemistry

Dave Adams

Euan Brown

Graeme Barker

Magnus Bebbington

Nicola Howarth

Arno Kraft

Ai-Lan Lee

Nick Leslie

Kevin McCullough

Colin Rickman

Filipe Vilela

Physical Chemistry

Ken McKendrick

Valeria Arrighi

David Bucknall

Matt Costen

Stuart Greaves

Maciej Gutowski

Martin McCoustra

N Hendrik Nahler

Martin Paterson

Experimental Officers and Administrative Staff

Dave Ellis

Georgina Rosair

Placement Coordinators

Industrial:  Scott Dalgarno

Honorary and Emeritus Staff

John Parker

Joe Pfab

Valeria Arrighi

BSc, PhD, DIC, CChem, FRSC, MInstP

Head of Discipline for Chemistry

+44 (0)131 451 3108
<li>Room 2.38<br>William Perkin Building</li><li>School of Engineering &amp; Physical Sciences; Chemical Sciences</li><li>Heriot-Watt University </li><li>Edinburgh</li><li>EH14 4AS</li><li>United Kingdom</li>
Roles and responsibilities
  • Head of Discipline for Chemistry

 Properties of Polymers

Our research focuses on understanding structure-property relationships in polymeric materials, including thermal, mechanical and dynamic behaviour in polymer-polymer mixtures, liquid crystalline polymers, composites and nanocomposites.

Our main area of expertise is in the application of scattering techniques to investigate structure and dynamics of polymers.

1. Polymer Blends and Nanocomposites

In collaboration with Dr Arno Kraft, we have prepared a series of novel nanocomposites using techniques such as such as atom-transfer radical polymerisations (ATRP). Our work in this area aims to understand how covalently bonding chains onto nanoparticles alters their macroscopic properties (ageing, thermal and mechanical) to microscopic behaviour (both structure and molecular dynamics) with a view to optimise performance. Despite the practical importance of polymer-polymer mixtures, very few physical ageing studies of blends have been carried out and there is no clear understanding of the relationship between ageing in blends and pure components. Our work on blends focuses on ageing studies using enthalpy relaxation on systems with strong, specific interactions between the blend components (hydrogen bonding).

Figure 1. Dispersing and grafting PMMA chains on silica nanoparticles enhances mechanical properties. Grafting has the greatest effect.

2. Dynamics

While the individual repeat units of a polymer chain are chemically simple, their connectivity introduces a complex structural and dynamic behaviour. Understanding polymer motion is a great challenge. Most of the work carried out in our group makes use of quasielastic neutron scattering (QENS), a technique which gives information on high frequency motions taking place on a local scale. The goal of this work is to improve our understanding of mechanical and flow properties in polymers as well as polymer blends and nanocomposites. Systems that are currently under study are blends interacting via hydrogen bonding and the polymer grafted silica nanoparticles prepared in our laboratory.

Figure 2. Natural and synthetic polymers display a range of dynamic processes which can be studied by neutron scattering.

3. Synthesis and Properties of Polyurethanes

Polyurethanes (PUs) are a versatile class of polymers, with wide ranging applications from seals and elastomers (e.g. Spandex) to high performance adhesives and coatings. Given the wide choice of starting compounds (e.g. long chain diols, aromatic or aliphatic diisocyanates), the end properties of the polyurethanes can be easily tailored by varying the chemical structure as well as the ratio of reactants. Using a prepolymer synthetic route (i.e. end capping long chain diols with diisocyanates followed by addition of a chain extender), we are preparing PUs incorporating mesogens and lactic acid oligomers, aiming to generate materials with enhanced mechanical and/or optical properties.

Figure 3. Prepolymer synthetic route for polyurethanes.

Selected publications

Up-to-date publications are listed on this research profile.