A leading polymer chemist, one of the first joint research appointments by the Monash-Warwick Alliance, has received the 2013 Le Fèvre Memorial Prize by the Australian Academy of Science.
Professor Sébastien Perrier won the prestigious prize for his work in macromolecular chemistry where he has used the ability to harness chemical synthesis to generate large molecules that form nanostructured materials.
The R.J.W. Le Fèvre Memorial Prize commemorates the work of the late Professor R.J.W. Le Fèvre, FAA, FRS and recognises outstanding research in chemistry by scientists under 40 years of age.
Professor Perrier said he felt very honoured to be awarded such a prestigious prize:
I thank the Australian Academy of Science for recognising the research I am involved in and for highlighting the impact greater understanding of macromolecular chemistry has across a wide range of applications. It is a team award, and a great recognition of the fantastic work performed by my research group - staff, students and postdocs– and our collaborators.”
Professor Perrier’s research focuses on harnessing chemical synthesis to generate large molecules that form nanostructured materials. This fundamental and applied polymer research is designed to consider the environmental and social impacts of both the materials and the chemical processes by which they are prepared, including sustainable processes for the synthesis of polymers and 'green' materials with a low impact on the environment.
Professor Perrier said his research was like 'molecular lego':
I use chemical reactions to precisely assemble molecules into materials, thus controlling the overall material properties from the molecular level. This approach of 'molecular engineering' gives access to new materials, exhibiting unique properties. For instance, we have designed nanotubes, tubular structures on the nanometer scale (one millionth of a millimetre), with a wide range of applications, from membranes, for instance for the purification of water, to therapeutic uses, for the development of new drug systems.”
Professor Perrier has made major contributions to the understanding and applications of polymerisation techniques such as living radical polymerisation, one of the most versatile means to make nanostructured materials with tailored properties for research and industrial applications. His work on nanostructured materials has also had a profound impact on a variety of industrial products, with applications ranging from personal care to paint.