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Personal profile


Brian Saunders (BS) obtained his PhD at Monash University (Australia) in 1994 and worked as a post-doc with Prof. Brian Vincent at the University of Bristol between 1994 and 1997. He is a Professor of Polymer and Colloid Chemistry at the School of Materials, University of Manchester. His research career at Manchester began in 2002 and involves the application of polymer and colloid chemistry principles to solar energy and healthcare research. He has current EPSRC funding as Principal Investigator in both of these areas. It is very unusual for any academic to have such funding in two very different areas of research. This demonstrates the high international standing of our group's research in both of these diverse research areas. He has an international reputation for microgel (MG) research and published his first MG paper in 1996. MGs are pre-assembled sub-micrometre gel particles. A highlight of his healthcare research is a new method for constructing gels using pre-assembled sub-micrometer microgel particles. He has more than 164 peer-reviewed publications and is the corresponding author for 75% of them. Of those papers, more than 90 involve polymer colloids and more than 70 involve MGs. He also has more than 25 publications involving conjugated polymers and / or light harvesting particles for solar applications, which includes 10 perovskite solar cell (PSC) papers. We design, construct and measure the performance of our own PSCs at Manchester. Our solar group has recently achieved a published PSC efficiency of 20.98%. BS is also co-founder of a successful University of Manchester spin-out, Gelexir Healthcare (now Gelmetix). Please see my "Research Interests" page for more details about our research. BS welcomes enquiries for PhDs in the PSC and biomaterials areas.

Research interests

The polymer and colloid chemistry research conducted within the Saunders group has two core themes: solar energy and biomaterials. We use polymer and colloid science to address major societal challenges. The group has collaborations with other UK and international universities as well as industry. Our perovskite solar cell (PSC) research involves using microgels as mesoscopic additives or using synthetic biomaterials such as hydroxyapatite to scavenge lead. Both microgels and hydroxyapatite have caused solar cell performance improvements. We have biomaterial research projects involving using microgels to repair damaged intervertebral discs (IVDs). Microgel particles are swellable polymer colloids. We have shown that injection of a pH-responsive microgel into degenerated IVDs result in an increase in disc height under biomechanically meaningful loads. This research resulted in a prestigious and highly productive EPSRC Established Career Funding (for BRS) and a Spin Out (Gelmetix Healthcare). In addition, we have a long-standing collaboration with Synthomer in the area of synthetic rubber gloves. Our thriving multicultural research group has students from Britain, China and Saudi Arabia. Prof. Saunders welcomes enquiries for PhDs in the perovskite solar cell and biomaterials areas.

More details on our biomaterials research: 

Our group pioneered the construction of injectable gels using interlinking of MGs as a means for restoring the mechanical properties of degenerated intervertebral discs. That research continues and is now expanding to encompass tough injectable gels for cartilage repair. We have an established and active collaboration with the medical school at Manchester which enables the biocompatibility of our gels to be assessed.

More details on our PSC research: 

A £1.4 M perovskite solar cell proposal led by Prof. Saunders at the University of Manchester has been awarded funding by the EPSRC. My solar group at the Department of Materials has pioneered perovskite solar cell research at this university and regularly publishes efficiencies greater than 20%. We built on this work to lead a joint proposal with Imperial College and Oxford University entitled: Biomineral-inspired mechanically tough perovskite solar cells with enhanced stability. This is an important milestone for energy research at the University of Manchester and promises to lead to exciting breakthroughs in perovskite solar cell stability enhancement.

Recent key papers: We are very excited about the following two recent papers from our group.

Xuelian Wang has just had a very nice hydrogel paper accepted:

X. Wang et al., Injectable Colloidal Hydrogels of N‑Vinylformamide Microgels Dispersed in Covalently Interlinked pH-Responsive Methacrylic
Acid-Based Microgels, Biomacromolecules, doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.3c00058.

Ran Wang has had a very nice perovskite solar cell paper accepted:

R. Wang et al, Improving the efficiency and stability of perovskite solar cells using π-conjugated aromatic additives with differing hydrophobicities, Energy & Environmental Science., DOI:10.1039/D3EE00247K

Osama Alkhudhari just had his second perovskite solar cell paper accepted: Structurally coloured semitransparent solar cells using one-step deposition of self-ordering microgel particles. RSC Advances, DOI: 10.1039/dra00324a.

A full list of publications from the group appear in the Publications page.

My group



Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Areas of expertise

  • QD Chemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • solar energy
  • Polymer colloids

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Advanced materials
  • Manchester Energy
  • Energy
  • Manchester Regenerative Medicine Network
  • Advanced Materials in Medicine
  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute


  • Biomaterials
  • Solar energy using photovoltaics
  • Polymers and Colloids


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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