Distinguished Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik

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Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research)

Role in the Centre

As a chemist, Christopher Barner-Kowollik fuses advanced synthetic macromolecular photochemistry with a deep investigation into the fundamental understanding of reaction mechanisms and kinetics. Within QUT’s Centre for Materials Science, Christopher contributes research programs that pioneer advanced macromolecular photoresists for 3D laser lithography, which enable sub-diffraction 3D printing as well as the design of microstructure with outer-field responsive mechanical properties.

His team’s vast array of precision red-shifted photochemical transformations are exploited in the Centre’s context for the construction of sequence-defined molecular barcodes for remote optical readout, finding applications in object tagging and identification as well as new materials concepts, such as light stabilized dynamic materials (LSDMs) or gated single chain nanoparticles. Similarly, these red-shifted photochemical technologies are developed into powerful tools for spatially resolved surface structuring in 2 and 3D, underpinned by advanced analytical methods such as ToF-SIMS.

Christopher is particularly passionate about using advanced photochemical transformation methodologies developed in his research endeavours within the Centre for Materials Science for solving applications problems across QUT’s research centres, particularly in collaboration with the Centre for a Waste Free World and the Centre for Biomedical Technologies with a strong focus on external industry engagement.

Short Biography

A graduate in chemistry from Göttingen University, Germany, Christopher joined the University of New South Wales in early 2000 rising to lead the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design in 2006 as one of its directors.

He returned to Germany to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in 2008, where he established and led a German Research Council funded Centre of Excellence in soft matter synthesis and served as the Head of School of the School of Chemical Technology and Polymer Chemistry at the KIT. Following a period as an adjunct professor and collaborator with QUT, he moved to QUT in early 2017 and founded QUT’s Soft Matter Materials Laboratory as its inaugural Head, leading it to emerge as one of the world’s premier macromolecular laboratories.

Over his 22-year career to date, he has attracted over $40M in funding from the German Research Council, the Helmholtz Association, the Australian Research Council and the private sector. He has developed and supported highly collaborative large teams, often across continents. He authored over 730 peer-reviewed publications in leading journals (cited over 40 000 times) and was plenary and invited speaker at over 240 conferences.

Christopher’s research achievements have been recognised by an array of national and international awards including the coveted Erwin Schrödinger Award of the German Helmholtz Association, the Belgian Polymer Medal, the United Kingdom Macro Medal as well as national awards by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, the Royal Society of New South Wales, an ARC Professorial Fellowship and an ARC Laureate Fellowship.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Since early 2020, Christopher leads – in addition to his research role – QUT’s entire research portfolio as Senior Deputy-Vice Chancellor and Vice-President (Research).

Selected Publications

“Orange Light-induced Photochemistry Gated by pH and Confined Environments” Kodura, D.; Rodrigues, L. L.; Walden, S. L.; Goldmann, A. S.; Frisch, F.; Barner-Kowollik, C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 6343-6348

“Action Plots in Action: In-depth Insights into Photochemical Reactivity” Irshadeen, I.M.; Walden, S.L.; Wegener, M.; Truong, V.X.; Frisch, H.; Blinco, J.P.; Barner-Kowollik, C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 21113 – 21126.

“Light Induced Ligation of o-Quinodimethanes with Gated Fluorescence Self-Reporting” Feist, F.; Rodrigues, L. L.; Walden, S. L.; Krappitz, T. W.; Dargaville, T. R.; Weil, T.; Goldmann, A. S.; Blinco, J. P.; Barner-Kowollik, C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 7744-7748 (highlighted in JACS Spotlights).

“Hybrid Photo-Induced Copolymerization of Ring-Strained and Vinyl Monomers via Metal-Free ROMP” Krappitz, T.; Jovic, K.; Feist, F.; Frisch, H.; Rigoglioso, V. P.; Blinco, J. P.; Boydston, A. J.; Barner-Kowollik, C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 16605-16609.

“Light-Stabilised Dynamic Materials” Houck, H. A.; Blasco, E.; Du Prez, F. E.; Barner-Kowollik, C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 12329-12337.

“Visible Light Induced Ligation via o-Quinodimethane Thioethers” Feist, F.; Menzel, J. P.; Weil, T.; Blinco, J. P.; Barner-Kowollik, C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 11848-11854.

“Photochemistry in Confined Environments for Single Chain Nanoparticle Design” Frisch, H:, Menzel. J. P.; Bloesser, F. R.; Marschner, D.; Mundsinger, K.; Barner-Kowollik, C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 9551−9557