Predicting the effect of laser light on dynamic polymers

(19-05-2022) In her research, Anastasia Kislyak developed a kinetic model to better predict and control the influence of laser light on dynamic polymers.

Since the formation of our planet, photochemical reactions have played a crucial role in sustaining life on earth. Photochemistry is the branch of chemistry that deals with chemical reactions which need light to proceed. Well-known examples of such reactions are early silver-based photography, vitamin D synthesis and photosynthesis in plants.

In her PhD, which fits into a long-term collaboration between our University and Queensland University of Technology, Anastasia Kislyak investigates the kinetics of one of such reactions, i.e. the reversible anthracene photocycloaddition reaction. Anthracene reversible photocycloaddition reaction can be used to make dynamic polymeric materials. These are materials that change their mechanical properties under external stimuli, in this case, (laser) light.

Dynamic polymeric materials offer an important potential in various fields, for example, in cell biology. Cell behaviour can be studied within physical environments constructed using dynamic polymeric materials, the mechanical properties of which could be adjusted on-demand using light. Furthermore, the dynamic polymeric materials could be used in self-healing and shape-memory materials. It is, therefore, important to be able to predict and control changes in the mechanical properties of dynamic polymeric materials.

 “The current thesis aims to set the foundation for the development of an advanced and benchmarked model to predict dynamic changes in polymer network structures under an external stimulus (i.e. light)…,” explains Anastasia.

More specifically, a model was presented for predicting experimental data during the reversible anthracene photocycloaddition in solution. The anthracene photocycloaddition model was then extended to the intramolecular cross-linking of single polymer chains.

This model makes it possible to predict the reaction progress and the gyration radius of the folded polymers by using chemical reactivities corrected for confinement effects.

Read a more detailed summary or the entire PhD


PhD Title: In-Depth Kinetic Understanding and Design of [4+4] Anthracene Photocycloadditions


Contact: Anastasia Kislyak, Dagmar D'hooge, Paul Van Steenberge

Anastasia Kislyak

Anastasia Kislyak was born in Novotroitsk (Russia) in December 1994. She graduated from University College London in 2017 with a Master of Engineering in Chemical Engineering. Her Master research project on "Gold Nanoparticle Assembly for Stretchable Plasmonic Mats" was supervised by A/Prof. Stefan Guldin (AdReNa). During her studies, she also held the position of treasurer at UCL Student Society of Women Engineers.

In February 2018, Anastasia commenced her joined PhD at Macroarc of Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia) and Laboratory for Chemical Technology (LCT) of Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium) under the supervision of Prof Christopher Barner-Kowollik, Prof Dagmar D'hooge, Prof Paul Van Steenberge and Prof Leonie Barner. Her research work has yielded two first-author publications and a third manuscript will soon be submitted for peer review. During her PhD, Anastasia has also undertaken demonstrations of laboratory practicals. In August 2021, Anastasia has submitted her PhD thesis for consideration to QUT and UGent.


Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke