Associate Professor Stuart Prescott
Deputy Head of School

Associate Professor Stuart Prescott

School of Chemical Engineering

Stuart's principal research interest is in developing understanding of the relationships between the structures adopted by molecules at interfaces and the physical properties of these interfaces. Of particular interest have been polymers at the solid-liquid interface of nanoparticles dispersed in water. Such particles have high surface areas to be used for further chemistry, can have useful electronic properties for energy applications and are widely used from personal care formulations through to drug delivery vehicles. The potential economic and environmental impacts of improving our understanding of particulate dispersions are quite high.

Stuart's approach to understanding molecules at surfaces is to bring together various analytical techniques with numerical simulations to help gain the most from the available experimental data. He has extensively used solvent relaxation NMR as a way of characterising near-surface polymer/surfactant complexes has been a workhorse technique for my research in recent years. Through solvent relaxation NMR, in concert with light scattering and small-angle neutron scattering, he demonstrated antagonistic interactions exist between commonly used polymers and surfactants that leads to the destabilisation of nanoparticle dispersions. He also has a long-standing collaboration with US start-up company XiGo Nanotools to design and build bespoke, miniaturised hardware for solvent relaxation NMR and to develop suitable software for controlling the instrument and analysing the data. The instrument is commercially available as the “Acorn Area” with the “AreaQuant” software for measuring the surface area of colloidal dispersions.

Stuart also uses neutron scattering and neutron reflection to obtain detailed structural information on soft-condensed matter systems. He worked on the design, construction and commissioning of a new sample environment for neutron reflection experiments to study the effects of confinement on near-surface structures. Collisions between colloidal particles are one form of confinement, as is lubrication between surfaces. He recently published the designs for the cell along with studies of polyelectrolyte multilayers.

Studying the liquid-liquid interface can pose additional challenges Stuart has made use of microfluidic techniques to create of stable, high surface area emulsions. These emulsions are model systems to explore the uses of NMR for the characterisation of the drop size of emulsions as well as templates for further synthesis.

Education and work history

Stuart undertook his PhD research into the kinetics of RAFT-mediated living polymerisations jointly between the CSIRO, the Cooperative Research Centre for Polymers and the Key Centre for Polymer Colloids. Following two years' post-doctoral research at the University of Melbourne with the AFM, sonochemistry and nanoparticle groups, he moved to Bristol to take up a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship. He was appointed to the position of Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry at the University of Bristol in 2009 and Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the University of New South Wales in 2013.

Other activities

Stuart is also active in the Free and Open Source Software movement. He maintains a range of data analysis and visualisation packages for the Debian project and is a regular contributor to free software projects.

02 9385 2641
Complex Fluids Group Room 316A Hilmer Science and Engineering Building (E8)
  • Journal articles | 2022
    Bradbury P; Cidem A; Mahmodi H; Davies JM; Spicer PT; Prescott SW; Kabakova I; Ong HX; Traini D, 2022, 'Timothy Grass Pollen Induces Spatial Reorganisation of F-Actin and Loss of Junctional Integrity in Respiratory Cells', Inflammation, vol. 45, pp. 1209 - 1223,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Robertson H; Gresham IJ; Prescott SW; Webber GB; Wanless EJ; Nelson A, 2022, 'refellips: A Python package for the analysis of variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry data', SoftwareX, vol. 20,
    Journal articles | 2020
    Schindl A; Hawker RR; Schaffarczyk McHale KS; Liu KTC; Morris DC; Hsieh AY; Gilbert A; Prescott SW; Haines RS; Croft AK; Harper JB; Jäger CM, 2020, 'Controlling the outcome of SN2 reactions in ionic liquids: From rational data set design to predictive linear regression models', Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, vol. 22, pp. 23009 - 23018,
    Journal articles | 2019
    Song J; Caggioni M; Squires TM; Gilchrist JF; Prescott SW; Spicer PT, 2019, 'Heterogeneity, suspension, and yielding in sparse microfibrous cellulose gels 1. Bubble rheometer studies', Rheologica Acta, vol. 58, pp. 217 - 229,
    Journal articles | 2019
    Song J; Caggioni M; Squires TM; Gilchrist JF; Prescott SW; Spicer PT, 2019, 'Heterogeneity, suspension, and yielding in sparse microfibrous cellulose gels 2: strain rate-dependent two-fluid behavior', Rheologica Acta, vol. 58, pp. 231 - 239,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Wei Z; Piantavigna S; Holt SA; Nelson A; Spicer PT; Prescott SW, 2018, 'Comparing Surfactant Structures at "soft" and "hard" Hydrophobic Materials: Not All Interfaces Are Equivalent', Langmuir, vol. 34, pp. 9141 - 9152,
    Journal articles | 2017
    Dahiya P; DeBenedictis A; Atherton TJ; Caggioni M; Prescott SW; Hartel RW; Spicer PT, 2017, 'Arrested coalescence of viscoelastic droplets: triplet shape and restructuring', Soft Matter, vol. 13, pp. 2686 - 2697,
    Journal articles | 2017
    Wang H; Zetterlund PB; Boyer C; Boyd BJ; Prescott SW; Spicer PT, 2017, 'Soft polyhedral particles based on cubic liquid crystalline emulsion droplets', Soft Matter, vol. 13, pp. 8492 - 8501,
    Journal articles | 2015
    Cattoz B; De Vos WM; Cosgrove T; Crossman M; Espidel Y; Prescott SW, 2015, 'Interpolymer complexation: Comparisons of bulk and interfacial structures', Langmuir, vol. 31, pp. 4151 - 4159,
    Journal articles | 2015
    Cosgrove T; Swier S; Schmidt RG; Muangpil S; Espidel Y; Griffiths PC; Prescott SW, 2015, 'Impact of End-Tethered Polyhedral Nanoparticles on the Mobility of Poly(dimethylsiloxane)', Langmuir, vol. 31, pp. 8469 - 8477,
    Journal articles | 2014
    Alexander S; Cosgrove T; De Vos WM; Castle TC; Prescott SW, 2014, 'Aggregation behavior of polyisoprene-pluronic graft copolymers in selective solvents', Langmuir, vol. 30, pp. 5747 - 5754,
    Journal articles | 2014
    De Vos WM; Cattoz B; Avery MP; Cosgrove T; Prescott SW, 2014, 'Adsorption and surfactant-mediated desorption of poly(vinylpyrrolidone) on plasma- and piranha-cleaned silica surfaces', Langmuir, vol. 30, pp. 8425 - 8431,
    Journal articles | 2013
    Cooper CL; Cosgrove T; Van Duijneveldt JS; Murray M; Prescott SW, 2013, 'Competition between polymers for adsorption on silica: A solvent relaxation NMR and small-angle neutron scattering study', Langmuir, vol. 29, pp. 12670 - 12678,
    Journal articles | 2012
    Alexander S; De Vos WM; Castle TC; Cosgrove T; Prescott SW, 2012, 'Growth and shrinkage of pluronic micelles by uptake and release of flurbiprofen: Variation of pH', Langmuir, vol. 28, pp. 6539 - 6545,