Dr Anthony Higgins' research focuses on the behaviour of macromolecules at interfaces and in thin films.
Dr Higgins' interest in polymers began when undertaking a PhD (on granular materials) under the supervision of Sam Edwards at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. Since then he has worked on computational & experimental aspects of polymer processing (at Courtaulds plc), and on structure/behaviour of polymers in thin films (beginning at Sheffield within the group of Richard Jones).
Dr Higgins' studies are focused on trying to understand the behaviour of polymer-based systems including amorphous/flexible polymers, semi-conducting (conjugated) polymers and small molecule (eg fullerene) systems. This includes characterisation using techniques such as (specular and off-specular) neutron reflectivity, optical microscopy and scanning probe techniques (eg Higgins, A. M. et al. Advanced Functional Materials (2009) 19, 157-163, Chang, S. S. et al. Soft Matter (2008 ) 4, 2220-2224. The motivation for this work is to provide a fundamental understanding of the physical structure and behaviour of these macromolecules, which it is hoped will provide knowledge that can contribute towards improving the performance of organic devices, such as light-emitting diodes, photovoltaic cells and field-effect transistors.
The phenomenon of dewetting, where thin liquid films on substrates can become unstable, is another area of interest. Originally focussed on model (amorphous) polymeric systems (eg Higgins, A. M. and Jones, R. A. L. Nature (2000), 404, 476-478.), we have also attempted to control these instabilities in functional polymeric liquids, to produce self-assembled aligned conjugated polymer nanowires (Chang, S. S. et al. Advanced Functional Materials (2010) 20, 3045-3054.