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Paul Thornton

Member of the Colour and Polymer Science group

Contact details

Room: 1.02
Tel: +44 (0)113 3432935


Polymer Chemistry
Materials Chemistry
Macromolecular self-assembly
Surface Functionalisation
Enzyme-responsive materials

Photograph of Paul Thornton

Research interests

My research is concerned with employing controlled polymerisation techniques to produce functional polymeric materials with applicability within both a biomedical context and in the enhancement of commercially-important processes. Contemporary polymerisation methodologies including reversible addition−fragmentation chain-transfer polymerisation (RAFT), atom transfer radical polymerisation (ATRP) and nitroxide-mediated radical polymerization (NMP) are utilised to produce distinct (co)polymers for designed use in separation science, catalysis, (bio)sensing and surface coating applications.

In addition, I also have an interest in controlled ring-opening polymerisation to yield biodegradable polymers (homopolypeptides and polyesters) that are highly promising candidates as biomaterials. N-carboxyanhydride polymerisation is a facile route to creating synthetic homopolypeptides that possess a range of functionalities dependent on the amino acid monomer selected, and the capability to adopt a secondary structure. Consequently, we have exploited these features to create homopolypeptides that are capable of forming hydrogels, add antimicrobial properties and hydrophilicity to siloxane surfaces, and form enzyme-degradable carriers for gene delivery.

Finally, I am interested in utilising suspension and emulsion polymerisation, in addition to microfluidic synthesis, to create functionalised nanoparticles and resins. Further modification of the nanoparticles produced via solid phase peptide synthesis enables the creation of a range of stimuli-responsive materials that may be utilised in chromatography, catalyst immobilisation or drug delivery applications.


Boardman SJ, Lad R, Green DC, Thornton PD Chitosan hydrogels for targeted dye and protein adsorption Journal of Applied Polymer Science 134 -, 2017
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McAvan BS, Khuphe M, Thornton PD Polymer hydrogels for glutathione-mediated protein release European Polymer Journal 87 468-477, 2017
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Price DJ, Khuphe M, Davies RPW, McLaughlan JR, Ingram N, Thornton PD Poly(amino acid)-polyester graft copolymer nanoparticles for the acid-mediated release of doxorubicin Chemical Communications 53 8687-8690, 2017
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Khuphe M, Mahon CS, Thornton PD Glucose-bearing biodegradable poly(amino acid) and poly(amino acid)-poly(ester) conjugates for controlled payload release Biomaterials Science 4 1792-1801, 2016
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Green DC, Ihli J, Thornton PD, Holden MA, Marzec B, Kim YY, Kulak AN, Levenstein MA, Tang C, Lynch C, Webb SED, Tynan CJ, Meldrum FC 3D visualization of additive occlusion and tunable full-spectrum fluorescence in calcite Nature Communications 7 -, 2016
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Hayashi T, Kazlauciunas A, Thornton PD Dye conjugation to linseed oil by highly-effective thiol-ene coupling and subsequent esterification reactions Dyes and Pigments 123 304-316, 2015
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Hayashi T, Thornton PD The synthesis and characterisation of thiol-bearing C. I. Disperse Red 1 Dyes and Pigments 121 235-237, 2015
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Khuphe M, Mukonoweshuro B, Kazlauciunas A, Thornton PD A vegetable oil-based organogel for use in pH-mediated drug delivery Soft Matter 11 9160-9167, 2015
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Khuphe M, Kazlauciunas A, Huscroft M, Thornton PD The formation of biodegradable micelles from a therapeutic initiator for enzyme-mediated drug delivery. Chemical Communications 51 1520-1523, 2015
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Ventura C, Thornton P, Giordani S, Heise A Synthesis and photochemical properties of spiropyran graft and star polymers obtained by 'click' chemistry Polymer Chemistry 5 6318-6324, 2014
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Thornton PD, Reduwan Billah SM, Cameron NR Enzyme-degradable self-assembled hydrogels from polyalanine-modified poly(ethylene glycol) star polymers. Macromol Rapid Commun 34 257-262, 2013
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Byrne M, Thornton PD, Heise A Facile synthesis of ultra high molecualr weight star shaped polypeptides based on NCA ring opening polymerization (ROP) with dendrimers ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY 243 , 2012

Habraken GJM, Heise A, Thornton PD Block copolypeptides prepared by N-carboxyanhydride ring-opening polymerization Macromolecular Rapid Communications 33 272-286, 2012
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Thornton PD, Brannigan R, Podporska J, Quilty B, Heise A The generation of hydrophilic polypeptide-siloxane conjugates via n-carboxyanhydride polymerisation. J Mater Sci Mater Med 23 37-45, 2012
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Byrne M, Thornton PD, Cryan SA, Heise A Star polypeptides by NCA polymerisation from dendritic initiators: Synthesis and enzyme controlled payload release Polymer Chemistry 3 2825-2831, 2012
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Borase T, Iacono M, Ali SI, Thornton PD, Heise A Polypeptide core-shell silica nanoparticles with high grafting density by N-carboxyanhydride (NCA) ring opening polymerization as responsive materials and for bioconjugation Polymer Chemistry 3 1267-1275, 2012
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Thornton PD, Heise A Polymeric bio-functionalisation to generate enzyme-responsive biomaterials 24th European Conference on Biomaterials - Annual Conference of the European Society for Biomaterials -, 2011

Habraken GJM, Peeters M, Thornton PD, Koning CE, Heise A Selective enzymatic degradation of self-assembled particles from amphiphilic block copolymers obtained by the combination of N -carboxyanhydride and nitroxide-mediated polymerization Biomacromolecules 12 3761-3769, 2011
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Thornton PD, Heise A Bio-functionalisation to enzymatically control the solution properties of a self-supporting polymeric material. Chem Commun (Camb) 47 3108-3110, 2011
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Ates Z, Thornton PD, Heise A Side-chain functionalisation of unsaturated polyesters from ring-opening polymerisation of macrolactones by thiol-ene click chemistry Polymer Chemistry 2 309-312, 2011
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Thornton PD, Heise A Highly specific dual enzyme-mediated payload release from peptide-coated silica particles. J Am Chem Soc 132 2024-2028, 2010
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Ulijn RV, Mart RJ, McDonald TT, Thornton PD Designing peptide actuators for enzyme-responsive particles ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY 238 -, 2009

Thornton PD, Mart RJ, Webb SJ, Ulijn RV Enzyme-responsive hydrogel particles for the controlled release of proteins: Designing peptide actuators to match payload Soft Matter 4 821-827, 2008
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Thornton PD, Mart RJ, Ulijn RV Enzyme-responsive polymer hydrogel particles for controlled release Advanced Materials 19 1252-1256, 2007
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Ulijn RV, Bibi N, Jayawarna V, Thornton PD, Todd SJ, Mart RJ, Smith AM, Gough JE Bioresponsive hydrogels Materials Today 10 40-48, 2007
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Thornton PD, Ulijn RV Enzyme-triggered collapse of PEG based particles Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings 947 , 2006
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Thornton PD, McConnell G, Ulijn RV Enzyme responsive polymer hydrogel beads Chemical Communications 5913-5915, 2005
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