The Highlight Lecture Series is a flagship, community-building activities. For this Series, we bring eminent speakers from around the world to Imperial – to increase awareness of areas where molecular science and engineering can make a valuable contribution. The visits also boost our level of interaction with other academic and industrial centres of excellence.

This highlight lecture will be presented by Professor Rachel O’Rilley Head of the School of Chemistry at The University of Birmingham. The structure of lecture will be 50 minutes of presentation with 10 minutes Q&A afterwards.

The lecture will be held in the Molecular Sciences Research Hub Lecture Theatre on the White City Campus of Imperial College London. There will be tea and coffee available in the Foyer afterwards with a chance for networking.


Crystallization-driven self-assembly (CDSA) is a powerful tool in the solution polymer self-assembly toolbox and has been utilized to create an impressive range of hierarchical block copolymer structures. Unlike in conventional solution self-assembly, where the range of morphologies obtained are determined by varying the relative block composition of each block, in polymers assembled via CDSA, the formation of micelles with low interfacial curvature is favored. However, despite advances in CDSA there are relatively few examples where the aggregate morphology can be readily controlled to form nanostructures whose size can be controlled in 2 dimensions. Our group has the CDSA of poly(ester) based block copolymers. In this work we present the CDSA of a range of polylactone block copolymers which form a range of self-assembled nanostructures including 2D nanostructures. Using these we have further explored the design rules for the synthesis of such 2D nanomaterials and demonstrated their epitaxial growth, which highlights their potential as biocompatible nanomaterials.


Rachel O’Reilly is currently a Professor of Chemistry and Head of School at the University of Birmingham. She got her first degree from the University of Cambridge and went on to complete her PhD at Imperial College, London in 2003. She then moved to the US to under the joint direction of Professors Craig J. Hawker and Karen L. Wooley. In 2006 she took up a Royal Society Fellowship at the University of Cambridge and then in 2009 she moved to the University of Warwick and in 2012 was promoted to full professor. She moved to Birmingham in 2018. Her group undertakes research in the area of catalysis, responsive polymers, nanostructure characterization and DNA nanomaterials. She has published over 200 papers to date and has received a number of awards. In 2017 she was awarded the Macromolecules/Biomacromolecules young investigator award from the ACS in recognition of her innovative research in polymer science and in 2020 the RSC Corday-Morgan Prize. In 2022 she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. She is an associate editor for JACS and a review editor for Science.

About The Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering

The Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering (IMSE) is one of Imperial College London’s Global Institutes, drawing on the strength of its four faculties to address some of the grand challenges facing the world today. The Institute’s activities are focused on tackling problems where molecular innovation plays an important role.

About The Department of Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London have a proud history of pioneering chemistry training and research with practical benefits to society which continues today. They are one of the largest departments in the UK and their activities cover the full range of fundamental theoretical and experimental chemistry, as well as research at chemistry’s interfaces with other disciplines such as materials, engineering, biology and medicine.

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