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Prof Mark Matsen


Contact details


+44 (0) 118378 8544


+44 (0) 118975 0203




J.J.Thomson Physical Laboratory

Department of Physics, 

University of Reading


RG6 6AF, 



Prof. M. W. Matsen is Reader of Theoretical Polymer Physics at the University of Reading. He joined the Department of Physics in 1996, following postdoctoral positions in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota and in the Physics Department at the University of Washington. Since joining the Department here, he has established a research group focusing on theory for structured polymers, some systems of which have direct applications to nanotechnology. He has recently moved to the Mathematics department.

Research Activities

Nanoscale Templating

Block copolymers involve the bonding together of two or more incompatible polymer chains, and are renowned for their self-assembly into nanoscale periodic morphologies with wide-ranging symmetries. In recent years, thin layers of block copolymer material have been used as templates for etching patterns into various substrates.  One intended application is to etch nanoscale holes into silcon wafers in which ferromagnetic material is deposited to form ultrahigh-density magnetic-storage devices.  We are involved in the theoretical modelling of such pattern formation and the prediction of its symmetry in terms of  the molecular characteristics of the block copolymer.

As an alternative to block copolymers, we are also investigating the possible benefits of using binary polymeric brushes to form patterned layers.  In this case, two types of chemically incompatible polymers are grafted to the substrate, and they self-assemble into patterned morphologies.  The mechanism is very similar to that of block copolymers, but the immobility of the chains offers certain advantages.

Molecular Pumps and Motors

Polyelectrolyte brushes, where chemically charged polymers are grafted to a substrate in an aqueous environment, exhibit an interesting transition between a collapsed and an extended state induced by changing the pH.  This transition offers a convenient mechanism of converting chemical energy into mechanical energy to form various nanoscale machines.  See www.polymercentre.org.uk/expert/features/0101.php for a possible design of a nanoscale pump.

Selected Publications

1.“The standard Gaussian model for block copolymer melts.” M. W. Matsen, Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter 14 (2002) R21.
2.“Predicting the mesophases of copolymer/nanoparticle composites.” R. B. Thompson, V. V. Ginzburg, M. W. Matsen, and A. C. Balazs, Science 292, (2001) 2469.
3.“Autophobic dewetting of homopolymer on a brush and entropic actraction between opposing brushes in a homopolymer matrix.” M. W. Matsen and J. M. Gardiner, Journal of Chemical Physics 115 (2001) 2794.
4.“Crystallisation in block copolymer melts: small soft-structures that template larger hard-structures.” J. P. A. Fairclough, S.-M. Mai, M. W. Matsen, W. Bras, L. Messe, S. Turner, A. Gleeson, C. Booth, I. W. Hamley, and A. J. Ryan, Journal of Chemical Physics 114 (2001) 5425.
5.“Thin films of block copolymer.” M.W. Matsen, Journal of Chemical Phyics 106 (1997) 7781.

Prof John Blackman
Dr Roger Bennett
Prof Mark Matsen
Prof Geoff Mitchell
Prof Howard Colquhoun
Dr Joanne Elliott
Dr Rebecca Green
Dr Wayne Hayes
Dr Richard Bonser
Prof George Jeronimides
Dr Peter Harris
Dr Tim Richardson
Page last updated March 23, 2010
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