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Key Centre for Polymers and Colloids

An international centre of excellence for research and training
Paving the way for novel, better and more environmentally-friendly industrial products

Research vision

The centre has developed extensive materials covering polymers and polymer colloids, their uses at home and in industry.

Boasting world-class facilities for the study of soft matter, and hosting international experts the centre also has an extensive network of collaborators in industry and academia.

Our work

The research at the centre is divided into four broad areas: molecular engineering; complex fluids; nano interfaces and polymer colloids.

The Key Centre has an extensive network of collaborators, both in industry and in academia. It provides research support for a range of Australian and international primary and secondary industries, teaches into the School of Chemistry and provides supervision for research students.

The centre is located within the Chemistry building on Camperdown campus and comprises modern offices, a seminar room, and state-of-the-art laboratories to house the extensive equipment (pdf, 956kB) for polymer colloid synthesis and characterisation.

The major laboratory is the Nuplex Polymer Synthesis Laboratory, in recognition of Nuplex Resins as a generous Foundation sponsor.

The extensive facilities for characterisation of polymer colloids are housed in the Orica Polymer Characterisation Laboratory, in recognition of Orica as a generous Foundation sponsor.

Boasting world-class facilities for the study of soft matter, and hosting international experts in polymers, colloids and surface chemistry, the centre also has an extensive network of collaborators in industry and academia.


Our research projects involve pure and applied aspects of polymer science, colloids, and surface chemistry, in both natural and synthetic systems.

Our research is based on the following main themes:

  • Organic synthesis
  • Polymer synthesis
  • Polymer self-assembly
  • Hybrid natural/synthetic materials
  • Formation and characterisation of polymer colloids
  • Hydrocolloids
  • Surfactants
  • Surface chemistry

The KCPC has a large range of equipment (PDF, 956kB) and facilities for production and analysis of polymers and colloids.

These facilities are often not otherwise available to Australian industry, and the combination of such equipment is unique in the world. Companies may send samples for analysis, and have contract syntheses undertaken on KCPC pilot-scale reactors. This service also provides expert advice and data interpretation by KCPC personnel on a fee-for-service basis. It also enables industry to test measurement devices and pilot reactors, to see if the company would benefit from their purchase. This provides companies with the means to improve effectiveness and will bootstrap technology transfer.

The centre is managed with the assistance of an Advisory Board which includes members from primary and secondary industries and staff from the University of Sydney.

When industry has a problem that needs solving in a hurry, the KCPC can bring skilled personnel and sophisticated equipment to bear on understanding the problem. Projects can be weeks, months or years. Projects are set up with time-framed milestones over which the industry client has the highest control, and may be costed on a fixed-price basis, a time-and-materials basis, or a combination of the two.

The KCPC staff comprise a powerful consulting group, able to assist in solving problems in a wide range of areas, including polymers and colloids production and formulation, polymer rheology, surfactant technology, pigment dispersion and stabilisation, agricultural chemistry and surface chemistry.

Provided by the Australian Department of Education, Science and Training, linkage grants are a generous means of complementing R&D funds from industry for company projects, and are often very attractive to international companies. KCPC staff have extensive experience in obtaining and participating in these grants.

The KCPC has a well-developed protocol for protection of intellectual property, ensuring that the interests of the industry partner, and of the researchers, are all safe-guarded to the satisfaction of all parties.

Group members:

Our equipment

Download PDF

Brian Hawkett

Director, Key Centre For Polymer Colloids
  • Room 351, Chemistry Building (F11), University of Sydney, NSW 2006

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