Dr Anthony Higgins
Associate Professor
Telephone: (01792) 602274
Room: Academic Office - A_013
Ground Floor
Engineering Central
Bay Campus

My research focuses on the behaviour of macromolecules at interfaces and in thin films.

My 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 I have 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).

My 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.).


  1. Interfacial width and phase equilibrium in polymer-fullerene thin-films. Communications Physics
  2. & Stability of Polymer:PCBM Thin Films under Competitive Illumination and Thermal Stress. Advanced Functional Materials 28(40), 1802520
  3. & Stability of Polymer:PCBM Thin Films under Competitive Illumination and Thermal Stress. Advanced Functional Materials, 1802520
  4. & Mixing in PCBM/P3HT bilayers, using in situ and ex situ neutron reflectivity. Journal of Materials Research, 1-11.
  5. & Bimodal crystallization at polymer–fullerene interfaces. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 17(3), 2216-2227.

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  • EG-060 Mechanics

    Introductory Newtonian mechanics at Foundation level.

  • EGA325 Medical Engineering Group Design Project

    Students will carry out a medical engineering design project in groups of up to 6 people.

  • EGNM02 Soft Nanotechnology

    This module introduces fundamental concepts in soft condensed matter physics/chemistry, and looks at the use of this knowledge in a wide range of 'soft matter'-based applications, including organic electronics, micro/nano-fluidics and molecular motors. A strong emphasis of the course is the fundamental physical processes that control the structure/behaviour of macromolecules.


  • Flow-to-fracture transitions in granular and shear thickening materials (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Bjornar Sandnes
  • Mixing and interfacial composition in polymer/fullerene thin-films (awarded 2018)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Paul Rees

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2011 Present Senior Lecturer Multidisciplinary Nanotechnology Centre (MNC), Swansea University
2004 2011 Lecturer Multidisciplinary Nanotechnology Centre (MNC), Swansea University
1998 2004 Post-Doctoral Researcher Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Sheffield
1992 1998 Scientist & Principal Scientist Research & Technology, Courtaulds plc, Coventry

Academic History

Date Qualification Location
1992 PhD Theoretical Condensed Matter Department of Physics, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University
1989 BSc Physics Imperial College London