Dr Cheng Zhang specialises in the synthesis and characterisation of biomaterials to aim for early detection of disease via multiple imaging modalities.

Dr Zhang is an innovative Research Fellow supported by both ARC and NHMRC. He has an outstanding track record in the fields of fluoropolymers, polymer chemistry, and materials science. He has made significant contributions to these fields of research through innovative chemistry to build precise fluoropolymer 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.

Dr Zhang is a Group Leader for the Zhang Group.

Collaborations and Industry Engagement

Dr Zhang's research aims to promote polymer chemistry and its value to society by understanding structure-property relationships to develop novel functional polymeric platforms rapidly. An important way for achieving such a vision is to deliver academic excellence toward social engagement and global impact through industrial collaborations. Over the past five years, he has initiated and maintained great industrial connections with world-leading companies and local city councils, for example, working with Chemours and the City of Gold Coast to advance PFAS capture technologies, and collaborating with Lyndra Therapeutics Inc. to develop new oral drugs for facilitating PFAS elimination from humans. He has successfully secured over $2.5 M in external grants to support his research in related fields.

His research has achieved positive impacts on the community and has led to commercial, environmental and industrial benefits. He is the inventor and key driver of several patents, including the development of novel fluorinated polymeric devices for removing PFAS from environments (capture of fluorinated carbon compounds, WO2020160626A1). The invention delivers an easy-to-use and reusable highly fluorinated polymer-based device for efficient and selective removal of all classes of PFAS from various contaminated sources. In addition to patent protection, a commercialisation strategy for the invention is currently being developed together with Chemours and UniQuest. He has been awarded the Fresh scientist in 2021, Industry Engagement Award and ECR Industry Knowledge Exchange Grant in 2022 to broadcast the PFAS research to the general public. This provides a great pathway to introduce PFAS to the community and builds public awareness of the links between adverse health effects and PFAS.

Key Publications

Tan, X.; Dewapriya, P.; Prasad, P.; Chang, Y.; Huang, X.; Wang, Y.; Gong, X.; Hopkins, T. E.; Fu, C.; Thomas, K. V.; Peng, H.; Whittaker, A. K.; Zhang, C.* Efficient Removal of Perfluorinated Chemicals from Contaminated Water Sources Using Magnetic Fluorinated Polymer Sorbents. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2022, DOI: 10.1002/anie.202213071.

Wang, X.; Zhang, C.*; Sawczyk, M.; Sun, J.; Yuan, Q.; Chen, F.; Mendes, T. C.; Howlett, P. C.; Fu, C.; Wang, Y.; Tan, X.; Searles, D. J.; Kral, P.; Hawker, C. J.; Whittaker, A. K.; Forsyth, M. Ultra-stable all-solid-state sodium metal batteries enabled by perfluoropolyether-based electrolytes. Nat. Mater. 2022, 21, 1057-1065.

Zhang, C.; Yan, K.; Fu, C.; Peng, H.; Hawker, C. J.; Whittaker, A. K. Biological Utility of Fluorinated Compounds: from Materials Design to Molecular Imaging, Therapeutics and Environmental Remediation. Chem. Rev. 2022, 122, 167-208.

Zhang, C.; Vigil, D. L.; Sun, D.; Bates, M. W.; Loman, T.; Murphy, E. A.; Barbon, S. M.; Song, J.-A.; Yu, B.; Fredrickson, G. H.; Whittaker, A. K.; Hawker, C. J.; Bates, C. M. Emergence of Hexagonally Close-Packed Spheres in Linear Block Copolymer Melts. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 14106-14114.

Zhang, C.; Bates, M. W.; Geng, Z.; Levi, A. E.; Vigil, D.; Barbon, S. M.; Loman, T.; Delaney, K. T.; Fredrickson, G. H.; Bates, C. M.; Whittaker, A. K.; Hawker, C. J. Rapid Generation of Block Copolymer Libraries Using Automated Chromatographic Separation. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 9843-9849.

Zhang, C.; Liu, T.; Wang, W.; Bell, C. A.; Han, Y.; Fu, C.; Peng, H.; Tan, X.; Král, P.; Gaus, K.; Gooding, J. J.; Whittaker, A. K. Tuning of the Aggregation Behavior of Fluorinated Polymeric Nanoparticles for Improved Therapeutic Efficacy. ACS Nano 2020, 14, 7425-7434.

Zhang, C.; Moonshi, S. S.; Wang, W.; Ta, H. T.; Han, Y.; Han, F. Y.; Peng, H.; Král, P.; Rolfe, B. E.; Gooding, J. J.; Gaus, K.; Whittaker, A. K. High F-Content Perfluoropolyether-Based Nanoparticles for Targeted Detection of Breast Cancer by 19F Magnetic Resonance and Optical Imaging. ACS Nano 2018, 12, 9162-9176.

Zhang, C., Moonshi, S., Peng H., Puttick, S., Reid J., Bernardi S., Bernhardt D. and Whittaker A., (2016). Ionic-responsive 19F MRI contrast agents for the detection of cancer cells. (ACS Sensors, 2016, 1, 757-765).

Zhang, C., Peng H., Puttick, S., Reid J., Bernardi S., Bernhardt D., Zhang A., Li W. and Whittaker A., (2016). NMR study of thermo-responsive dendronized polymers with eterogeneous phase transition in aqueous solution. (IF=5.8, Macromolecules, 49 (3): 900-908).

Zhang, C., Peng H., Puttick, S., Reid J., Bernardi S., Bernhardt D. and Whittaker A., (2015). Conformation of Hydrophobically Modified Thermoresponsive Poly(OEGMA-co-TFEA) across the LCST Revealed by NMR and Molecular Dynamics Studies. (IF=5.8, Macromolecules, 48 (10): 3310-3317).

Zhang, C., Peng H. and Whittaker A., (2014). NMR investigation of effect of dissolved salts on the thermoresponsive behavior of oligo (ethylene glycol)‐methacrylate‐based polymers. (IF=3.1, J. Polym. Sci. Pol. Chem., 52(16): 2375-2385).

Full list of publications available on espace