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Materials Research Institute


Dr Stoyan Smoukov

Stoyan Smoukov

Professor of Chemical Engineering & Deputy Chair (Research) of Division of Chemical Engineering & Renewable Energy

School of Engineering and Materials Science
Engineering 320, Mile End
+44 (0)20 7882 5305


autonomous material robotics, self-sensing materials, artificial morphogenesis, origin of life, phase change

Research Interests

Phase changes and confinement
We are interested in the thermodynamics of materials in confinement, as well as the mechanisms and kinetics of their transformation. When confined, particles and even molecules, order and behave in unexpected ways, obtaining new properties compared to bulk materials of the same composition. We have discovered new fundamental responses due to confinement from the molecular up to the micron scales. We have discovered novel, scalable phase separation processes for nanomanufacturing structures from nanofibers to particles.
Smart actuators
A major focus of our research are adaptive responsive structures, including materials which respond to several stimuli: temperature, pressure, pH, ionic strength, light, and electromagnetic fields. While artificial muscles with higher energy density could be better actuators for robots, smarter actuators could also provide sensing to start the actuation, or even photonic switches for new optoelectronic computing. Recently, inspired by work in shape-memory polymers, we created multi-functional muscles which can be programmed to “remember and recall movement”.
Integration with living tissues
One attractive promise of active materials is the potential for implantation. Hierarchically structured materials we have made are showing promise for developing novel tissue scaffolds. These are proving successful in several areas of biology.
Smart, Sustainable Energy Use
Our research is focused on sustainable uses of energy by embedding dynamics in smart materials. Smart materials could be the devices of tomorrow. Clockwork would become polymer-work. Polymer actuation overcomes the use of multiple joints and motors, and multiple functions eliminate cross-talk between components in current devices. They also lead to better conformability, and compatibility with soft tissues. 

Publications of specific relevance to Materials Research



  • Burrows SA, Korotkin I, Smoukov SK, Boek E and Karabasov S (2021). Benchmarking of Molecular Dynamics Force Fields for Solid-Liquid and Solid-Solid Phase Transitions in Alkanes. Journal of Physical Chemistry B  vol. 125, (19) 5145-5159. 10.1021/acs.jpcb.0c07587


  • Wang T, Gao L, Hou J, Herou SJA, Griffiths JT, Li W, Dong J, Gao S, Titirici MM, Kumar RV, Cheetham AK, Bao X, Fu Q and Smoukov SK (2019). Rational approach to guest confinement inside MOF cavities for low-temperature catalysis. Nature Communications  vol. 10, (1) 10.1038/s41467-019-08972-x


  • Schauer S, Baumberg JJ, Hölscher H and Smoukov SK (2018). Tuning of Structural Colors Like a Chameleon Enabled by Shape-Memory Polymers. Macromolecular Rapid Communications  vol. 39, (21) 10.1002/marc.201800518
  • Lesov I, Valkova Z, Vassileva E, Georgiev GS, Ruseva K, Simeonov M, Tcholakova S, Denkov ND and Smoukov SK (2018). Bottom-Up Synthesis of Polymeric Micro- and Nanoparticles with Regular Anisotropic Shapes. Macromolecules  vol. 51, (19) 7456-7462. 10.1021/acs.macromol.8b00529
  • Wang T, Kim HK, Liu Y, Li W, Griffiths JT, Wu Y, Laha S, Fong KD, Podjaski F, Yun C, Kumar RV, Lotsch BV, Cheetham AK and Smoukov SK (2018). Bottom-up Formation of Carbon-Based Structures with Multilevel Hierarchy from MOF-Guest Polyhedra. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 140, (19) 6130-6136. 10.1021/jacs.8b02411


  • Valkova Z, Cholakova D, Tcholakova S, Denkov N and Smoukov SK (2017). Mechanisms and Control of Self-Emulsification upon Freezing and Melting of Dispersed Alkane Drops. Langmuir  vol. 33, (43) 12155-12170. 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b02048
  • Lin IT, Wang T, Zhang F and Smoukov SK (2017). Fault-Tolerant Electro-Responsive Surfaces for Dynamic Micropattern Molds and Tunable Optics. Scientific Reports  vol. 7, (1) 10.1038/s41598-017-12899-y
  • Fong KD, Wang T, Kim HK, Kumar RV and Smoukov SK (2017). Semi-Interpenetrating Polymer Networks for Enhanced Supercapacitor Electrodes. Acs Energy Letters  vol. 2, (9) 2014-2020. 10.1021/acsenergylett.7b00466
  • Karakashev SI and Smoukov SK (2017). CMC prediction for ionic surfactants in pure water and aqueous salt solutions based solely on tabulated molecular parameters. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science  vol. 501, 142-149. 10.1016/j.jcis.2017.04.046
  • Cholakova D, Valkova Z, Tcholakova S, Denkov N and Smoukov SK (2017). Self-Shaping of Multicomponent Drops. Langmuir  vol. 33, (23) 5696-5706. 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b01153
  • Vatandoost H, Norouzi M, Alehashem SMS and Smoukov SK (2017). A novel phenomenological model for dynamic behavior of magnetorheological elastomers in tension-compression mode. Smart Materials and Structures  vol. 26, (6) 10.1088/1361-665X/aa6126
  • Offeddu GS, Mela I, Jeggle P, Henderson RM, Smoukov SK and Oyen ML (2017). Cartilage-like electrostatic stiffening of responsive cryogel scaffolds. Scientific Reports  vol. 7, 10.1038/srep42948
  • Haas PA, Goldstein RE, Smoukov SK, Cholakova D and Denkov N (2017). Theory of Shape-Shifting Droplets. Physical Review Letters  vol. 118, (8) 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.088001
  • Tcholakova S, Valkova Z, Cholakova D, Vinarov Z, Lesov I, Denkov N and Smoukov SK (2017). Efficient self-emulsification via cooling-heating cycles. Nature Communications  vol. 8, 10.1038/ncomms15012


  • Tian T, Blanco E, Smoukov SK, Velev OD and Velikov KP (2016). Dissolution behaviour of ferric pyrophosphate and its mixtures with soluble pyrophosphates: Potential strategy for increasing iron bioavailability. Food Chemistry  vol. 208, 97-102. 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.03.078
  • Cholakova D, Denkov N, Tcholakova S, Lesov I and Smoukov SK (2016). Control of drop shape transformations in cooled emulsions. Advances in Colloid and Interface Science  vol. 235, 90-107. 10.1016/j.cis.2016.06.002
  • Wang T, Farajollahi M, Henke S, Zhu T, Bajpe SR, Sun S, Barnard JS, Lee JS, Madden JDW, Cheetham AK and Smoukov SK (2016). Functional conductive nanomaterials: Via polymerisation in nano-channels: PEDOT in a MOF. Materials Horizons  vol. 4, (1) 64-71. 10.1039/c6mh00230g
  • Denkov N, Cholakova D, Tcholakova S and Smoukov SK (2016). On the Mechanism of Drop Self-Shaping in Cooled Emulsions. Langmuir  vol. 32, (31) 7985-7991. 10.1021/acs.langmuir.6b01626
  • Wang T, Farajollahi M, Choi YS, Lin IT, Marshall JE, Thompson NM, Kar-Narayan S, Madden JDW and Smoukov SK (2016). Electroactive polymers for sensing. Interface Focus  vol. 6, (4) 10.1098/rsfs.2016.0026
  • Darwish MSA, Nguyen NHA, Ševc¿ A, Stibor I and Smoukov SK (2016). Dual-modality self-heating and antibacterial polymer-coated nanoparticles for magnetic hyperthermia. Materials Science and Engineering C  vol. 63, 88-95. 10.1016/j.msec.2016.02.052
  • Ding T, Valev VK, Salmon AR, Forman CJ, Smoukov SK, Scherman OA, Frenkel D and Baumberg JJ (2016). Light-induced actuating nanotransducers. Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America  vol. 113, (20) 5503-5507. 10.1073/pnas.1524209113
  • Zhu T, Ding T, Tang F, Han Y, Ali M, Badcock T, Kappers MJ, Shields AJ, Smoukov SK and Oliver RA (2016). Self-assembled Multilayers of Silica Nanospheres for Defect Reduction in Non- and Semipolar Gallium Nitride Epitaxial Layers. Crystal Growth and Design  vol. 16, (2) 1010-1016. 10.1021/acs.cgd.5b01560
  • Blanco E, Smoukov SK, Velev OD and Velikov KP (2016). Organic-inorganic patchy particles as a versatile platform for fluid-in-fluid dispersion stabilisation. Faraday Discussions  vol. 191, 73-88. 10.1039/c6fd00036c


  • Denkov N, Tcholakova S, Lesov I, Cholakova D and Smoukov SK (2015). Self-shaping of oil droplets via the formation of intermediate rotator phases upon cooling. Nature  vol. 528, (7582) 392-395. 10.1038/nature16189
  • Sett S, Karakashev SI, Smoukov SK and Yarin AL (2015). Ion-specific effects in foams. Advances in Colloid and Interface Science  vol. 225, 98-113. 10.1016/j.cis.2015.08.007
  • Zhang FH, Zhang ZC, Luo CJ, Lin IT, Liu Y, Leng J and Smoukov SK (2015). Remote, fast actuation of programmable multiple shape memory composites by magnetic fields. Journal of Materials Chemistry C  vol. 3, (43) 11290-11293. 10.1039/c5tc02464a
  • Luo CJ, Wightman R, Meyerowitz E and Smoukov SK (2015). A 3-dimensional fibre scaffold as an investigative tool for studying the morphogenesis of isolated plant cells. Bmc Plant Biology  vol. 15, (1) 10.1186/s12870-015-0581-7
  • Khaldi A, Plesse C, Vidal F and Smoukov SK (2015). Smarter Actuator Design with Complementary and Synergetic Functions. Advanced Materials  vol. 27, (30) 4418-4422. 10.1002/adma.201500209
  • Ding T, Cao G, Schäfer CG, Zhao Q, Gallei M, Smoukov SK and Baumberg JJ (2015). Revealing Invisible Photonic Inscriptions: Images from Strain. Acs Applied Materials and Interfaces  vol. 7, (24) 13497-13502. 10.1021/acsami.5b02768
  • Shi W, Liang R, Xu S, Wang Y, Luo C, Darwish M and Smoukov SK (2015). Layer-by-layer self-assembly: Toward magnetic films with tunable anisotropy. Journal of Physical Chemistry C  vol. 119, (23) 13215-13223. 10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b01065
  • Alexandrova L, Karakashev SI, Grigorov L, Phan CM and Smoukov SK (2015). Wetting properties of phospholipid dispersion on tunable hydrophobic SiO2-glass plates. Advances in Colloid and Interface Science  vol. 220, 1-7. 10.1016/j.cis.2014.08.003
  • Smoukov SK, Tian T, Vitchuli N, Gangwal S, Geisen P, Wright M, Shim E, Marquez M, Fowler J and Velev OD (2015). Scalable Liquid Shear-Driven Fabrication of Polymer Nanofibers. Advanced Materials  vol. 27, (16) 2642-2647. 10.1002/adma.201404616
  • Karakashev SI and Smoukov SK (2015). Fast estimation of the equilibrium adsorption constants of ionic surfactants with account for ion-specific effects. Colloids and Surfaces a: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects  vol. 467, 143-148. 10.1016/j.colsurfa.2014.11.016
  • Wang Y, Ding T, Baumberg JJ and Smoukov SK (2015). Symmetry breaking polymerization: One-pot synthesis of plasmonic hybrid Janus nanoparticles. Nanoscale  vol. 7, (23) 10344-10349. 10.1039/c5nr01999k
  • Ding T, Smoukov SK and Baumberg JJ (2015). Stamping colloidal photonic crystals: A facile way towards complex pixel colour patterns for sensing and displays. Nanoscale  vol. 7, (5) 1857-1863. 10.1039/c4nr05934d


  • Khaldi A, Elliott JA and Smoukov SK (2014). Erratum: Electro-mechanical actuator with muscle memory (Journal of Materials Chemistry C (2014) 2 (8029-8034)). Journal of Materials Chemistry C  vol. 2, (43) 10.1039/c4tc90130d
  • Ding T, Smoukov SK and Baumberg JJ (2014). Harnessing nonlinear rubber swelling for bulk synthesis of anisotropic hybrid nanoparticles. Journal of Materials Chemistry C  vol. 2, (41) 8745-8749. 10.1039/c4tc01660b
  • Khaldi A, Elliott JA and Smoukov SK (2014). Electro-mechanical actuator with muscle memory. Journal of Materials Chemistry C  vol. 2, (38) 8029-8034. 10.1039/c4tc00904e
  • Loukaides EG, Smoukov SK and Seffen KA (2014). Magnetic actuation and transition shapes of a bistable spherical cap. International Journal of Smart and Nano Materials  vol. 5, (4) 270-282. 10.1080/19475411.2014.997322
  • Kobayashi T and Smoukov SK (2014). Pulsed actuation avoids failure in dielectric elastomer artificial muscles. International Journal of Smart and Nano Materials  vol. 5, (4) 217-226. 10.1080/19475411.2014.987190
  • Marshall JE, Gallagher S, Terentjev EM and Smoukov SK (2014). Anisotropic colloidal micromuscles from liquid crystal elastomers. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 136, (1) 474-479. 10.1021/ja410930g
  • Ding T, Zhao Q, Smoukov SK and Baumberg JJ (2014). Selectively Patterning Polymer Opal Films via Microimprint Lithography. Advanced Optical Materials  vol. 2, (11) 1098-1104. 10.1002/adom.201400327


  • Blanco E, Lam S, Smoukov SK, Velikov KP, Khan SA and Velev OD (2013). Stability and viscoelasticity of magneto-pickering foams. Langmuir  vol. 29, (32) 10019-10027. 10.1021/la4014224


  • Kim J, Nakanishi H, Pollanen J, Smoukov S, Halperin WP and Grzybowski BA (2011). Nanoparticle-loaded aerogels and layered aerogels cast from sol-gel mixtures. Small  vol. 7, (18) 2568-2572. 10.1002/smll.201100605
  • Lam S, Blanco E, Smoukov SK, Velikov KP and Velev OD (2011). Magnetically responsive pickering foams. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 133, (35) 13856-13859. 10.1021/ja205065w
  • Smoukov SK, Lagzi I and Grzybowski BA (2011). Independence of primary and secondary structures in periodic precipitation patterns. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters  vol. 2, (4) 345-349. 10.1021/jz101679t


  • Huda S, Smoukov SK, Nakanishi H, Kowalczyk B, Bishop K and Grzybowski BA (2010). Antibacterial nanoparticle monolayers prepared on chemically inert surfaces by cooperative electrostatic adsorption (CELA). Acs Applied Materials and Interfaces  vol. 2, (4) 1206-1210. 10.1021/am100045v


  • Kowalczyk B, Apodaca MM, Nakanishi H, Smoukov SK and Grzybowski BA (2009). Lift-off and micropatterning of mono-and multilayer nanoparticle films. Small  vol. 5, (17) 1970-1973. 10.1002/smll.200900521
  • Kowalczyk B, Bishop KJM, Smoukov SK and Grzybowski BA (2009). Synthetic popularity reflects chemical reactivity. Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry  vol. 22, (9) 897-902. 10.1002/poc.1535
  • Smoukov SK, Gangwal S, Marquez M and Velev OD (2009). Reconfigurable responsive structures assembled from magnetic Janus particles. Soft Matter  vol. 5, (6) 1285-1292. 10.1039/b814304h


  • Klajn R, Gray TP, Wesson PJ, Myers BD, Dravid VP, Smoukov SK and Grzybowski BA (2008). Bulk synthesis and surface patterning of nanoporous metals and alloys from supraspherical nanoparticle aggregates. Advanced Functional Materials  vol. 18, (18) 2763-2769. 10.1002/adfm.200800293
  • Mahmud G, Bishop KJM, Chegel Y, Smoukov SK and Grzybowski BA (2008). Wet-stamped precipitant gradients control the growth of protein microcrystals in an array of nanoliter wells. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 130, (7) 2146-2147. 10.1021/ja078051k


  • Smoukov SK, Bishop KJM, Kowalczyk B, Kalsin AM and Grzybowski BA (2007). Electrostatically patchy coatings via cooperative adsorption of charged nanoparticles. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 129, (50) 15623-15630. 10.1021/ja075456w
  • Paszewski M, Smoukov SK, Klajn R and Grzybowski BA (2007). Multilevel surface nano- And microstructuring via sequential photoswelling of dichromated gelatin. Langmuir  vol. 23, (10) 5419-5422. 10.1021/la062982c


  • Kalsin AM, Kowalczyk B, Smoukov SK, Klajn R and Grzybowski BA (2006). Ionic-like behavior of oppositely charged nanoparticles. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 128, (47) 15046-15047. 10.1021/ja0642966
  • Smoukov SK and Grzybowski BA (2006). Maskless microetching of transparent conductive oxides (ITO and ZnO) and semiconductors (GaAs) based on reaction-diffusion. Chemistry of Materials  vol. 18, (20) 4722-4723. 10.1021/cm061468p
  • Kalsin AM, Pinchuk AO, Smoukov SK, Paszewski M, Schatz GC and Grzybowski BA (2006). Electrostatic aggregation and formation of core-shell suprastructures in binary mixtures of charged metal nanoparticles. Nano Letters  vol. 6, (9) 1896-1903. 10.1021/nl060967m
  • Campbell CJ, Smoukov SK, Bishop KJM, Baker E and Grzybowski BA (2006). Direct printing of 3D and curvilinear micrometer-sized architectures into solid substrates with sub-micrometer resolution. Advanced Materials  vol. 18, (15) 2004-2008. 10.1002/adma.200600716
  • Kalsin AM, Fialkowski M, Paszewski M, Smoukov SK, Bishop KJM and Grzybowski BA (2006). Electrostatic self-assembly of binary nanoparticle crystals with a diamond-like lattice. Science  vol. 312, (5772) 420-424. 10.1126/science.1125124
  • Fialkowski M, Bishop KJM, Klajn R, Smoukov SK, Campbell CJ and Grzybowski BA (2006). Principles and implementations of dissipative (dynamic) self-assembly. Journal of Physical Chemistry B  vol. 110, (6) 2482-2496. 10.1021/jp054153q


  • Smoukov SK, Bitner A, Campbell CJ, Kandere-Grzybowska K and Grzybowski BA (2005). Nano- and microscopic surface wrinkles of linearly increasing heights prepared by periodic precipitation. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 127, (50) 17803-17807. 10.1021/ja054882j
  • Campbell CJ, Baker E, Fialkowski M, Bitner A, Smoukov SK and Grzybowski BA (2005). Self-organization of planar microlenses by periodic precipitation. Journal of Applied Physics  vol. 97, (12) 10.1063/1.1899757
  • Grzybowski BA, Bishop KJM, Campbell CJ, Fialkowski M and Smoukov SK (2005). Micro- and nanotechnology via reaction-diffusion. Soft Matter  vol. 1, (2) 114-128. 10.1039/b501769f
  • Balasubramanian V, Bush K, Smoukov S, Venerus DC and Schieber JD (2005). Measurements of flow-induced anisotropic thermal conduction in a polyisobutylene melt following step shear flow. Macromolecules  vol. 38, (14) 6210-6215. 10.1021/ma050827j
  • Smoukov SK, Bishop KJM, Klajn R, Campbell CJ and Grzybowski BA (2005). Cutting into solids with micropatterned gels. Advanced Materials  vol. 17, (11) 1361-1365. 10.1002/adma.200402086
  • Bitner A, Fia¿kowski M, Smoukov SK, Campbell CJ and Grzybowski BA (2005). Amplification of changes of a thin film's macromolecular structure into macroscopic reaction-diffusion patterns. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 127, (19) 6936-6937. 10.1021/ja051128p
  • Campbell CJ, Smoukov SK, Bishop KJM and Grzybowski BA (2005). Reactive surface micropatterning by wet stamping. Langmuir  vol. 21, (7) 2637-2640. 10.1021/la046942p
  • Smoukov SK, Bishop KJM, Campbell CJ and Grzybowski BA (2005). Freestanding three-dimensional copper foils prepared by electroless deposition on micropatterned gels. Advanced Materials  vol. 17, (6) 751-755. 10.1002/adma.200401010
  • Davydov R, Behrouzian B, Smoukov S, Stubbe J, Hoffman BM and Shanklin J (2005). Effect of substrate on the diiron(III) site in stearoyl acyl carrier protein Δ9-desaturase as disclosed by cryoreduction electron paramagnetic resonance/electron nuclear double resonance spectroscopy. Biochemistry  vol. 44, (4) 1309-1315. 10.1021/bi048599t


  • Schieber JD, Venerus DC, Bush K, Balasubramanian V and Smoukov S (2004). Measurement of anisotropic transport in flowing polymers by using a holographic technique. Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America  vol. 101, (36) 13142-13146. 10.1073/pnas.0405262101
  • Venerus DC, Schieber JD, Balasubramanian V, Bush K and Smoukov S (2004). Erratum: Anisotropic thermal conduction in a polymer liquid subjected to shear flow (Physical Review Letters (2004) 93 (098301)). Physical Review Letters  vol. 93, (10) 109902-109901. 10.1103/PhysRevLett.93.109902
  • Venerus DC, Schieber JD, Balasubramanian V, Bush K and Smoukov S (2004). Anisotropic thermal conduction in a polymer liquid subjected to shear flow. Physical Review Letters  vol. 93, (9) 10.1103/PhysRevLett.93.098301
  • Klajn R, Fialkowski M, Bensemann IT, Bitner A, Campbell CJ, Bishop K, Smoukov S and Grzybowski BA (2004). Multicolour micropatterning of thin films of dry gels. Nature Materials  vol. 3, (10) 729-735. 10.1038/nmat1231


  • Smoukov SK, Davydov RM, Doan PE, Sturgeon B, Kung IY, Hoffman BM and Kurtz DM (2003). EPR and ENDOR evidence for a 1-His, hydroxo-bridged mixed-valent diiron site in Desulfovibrio vulgaris rubrerythrin. Biochemistry  vol. 42, (20) 6201-6208. 10.1021/bi0300027


  • Smoukov SK, Kopp DA, Valentine AM, Davydov R, Lippard SJ and Hoffman BM (2002). Product binding to the diiron(III) and mixed-valence diiron centers of methane monooxygenase hydroxylase studied by 1,2H and 19F ENDOR spectroscopy. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 124, (11) 2657-2663. 10.1021/ja010123z
  • Smoukov SK, Quaroni L, Wang X, Doan PE, Hoffman BM and Que L (2002). Electron-nuclear double resonance spectroscopic evidence for a hydroxo-bridge nucleophile involved in catalysis by a dinuclear hydrolase. Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 124, (11) 2595-2603. 10.1021/ja003169l
  • Smoukov SK, Telser J, Bernat BA, Rife CL, Armstrong RN and Hoffman BM (2002). EPR study of substrate binding to the MN(II) active site of the bacterial antibiotic resistance enzyme fosa: A better way to examine MN(II). Journal of The American Chemical Society  vol. 124, (10) 2318-2326. 10.1021/ja012480f