Zhang Group

Advancing (fluoro)polymer chemistry and its societal impact

The Zhang Group, led by Group Leader and ARC DECRA Fellow Dr Cheng Zhang, is dedicated to advancing (fluoro)polymer chemistry and its societal impact by exploring structure-property relationships to develop innovative functional polymeric platforms.

These platforms encompass new technologies for concentrating and destroying perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) from the environment, next-generation fluorinated components for energy storage devices, including batteries, and polymers for use as molecular imaging agents.

With a focus on academic excellence and social engagement, the group aims to make a global impact through productive collaborations with the industry. By bridging the gap between fundamental research and practical applications, the Zhang Group actively collaborates with industry partners, such as The Chemours Company, Gold Coast City Council, and IXOM, to provide valuable training opportunities for young scientists.


Research Areas

  • PFAS remediation
  • (fluoro)polymer chemistry
  • NMR and MRI of polymers
  • Energy polymer materials 
  • Polymeric biomaterials for disease detection and treatment

Research Approach

Through innovative polymer chemistries to build precise (fluoro)polymer structures and subsequent molecular-level characterisation to understand the structure-property relationship for specific applications including from energy materials e.g. solid electrolytes, sorbent materials for environmental PFAS remediation, to functional biomaterials e.g. imaging and therapeutic agents.

PFAS Remediation Video


We have collaborated closely with a number of national and international leading research groups, including experts in polymer chemistry and physics (Professors Craig Hawker, Christopher Bates and Glenn Fredrickson at University of California Santa Barbara; Professor Afang Zhang at Shanghai University), solid state electrolytes and energy materials (Professor Maria Forsyth at Deakin University; Professors Lianzhou Wang and Ruth Knibbe at The University of Queensland), computational theory (Professor Petr Král at the University of Illinois Chicago and Professor Debra Bernhardt at The University of Queensland), biomedical engineering (Professor Justin Gooding at the University of New South Wales), and environmental remediation (Professors Kevin Thomas and Andrew Whittaker at The University of Queensland)


Since 2019

  • ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2023) Developing Polymer Electrolytes for Operational All-Solid-State Batteries
  • UQ Knowledge Exchange & Translation Fund (2023) Removal of Perfluorinated Chemicals in Water Using Novel and Environmentally Stable Fluorinated Polymer Sorbents
  • ARC Linkage Projects (2023) Removal of Perfluorinated Chemicals Using New Fluorinated Polymer Sorbents
  • United States Army International Technology Center-Pacific (ITC-PAC) (2022) Perfluoropolyether-Based Ion-Exchange (PEPE-IEX) Platform for Water Filtration
  • NHMRC Early Career Fellowships (2019) Translatable Polymeric Nanomedicines towards Clinical Use


Click here to view Zhang group publications


Group Leader