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Dr Francis Clegg

Dr Francis Clegg BSc Hons, PhD, MRSC, FHEA

Senior Research Fellow


Francis Clegg graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 1994 with a degree in Applied Chemistry and continued at the same establishment within MERI to complete a PhD in 1998 involving the physicochemical properties of organo-mineral interactions.

After one year in the Chemical and Process Engineering Department at the University of Newcastle, Francis returned to MERI in 1999 to further his research in organo-mineral interactions with particular emphasis on polymer (nano)composites.


As a Senior Research Fellow and chemist at heart, Francis's current research interests are fulfilled within several polymer and composite projects, including:

• Sustainable and flexible high barrier packaging;
• Controlled release open wound dressings;
• Fire retardant composite resins;
• Polymer membranes and surface modification;
• Stimuli responsive shape memory polymers;
• Intumescent paints.

At the core of these projects is a detailed understanding of the interaction and compatibility of composite fillers with the polymer matrix. This is particularly relevant to the organo-mineral interactions involved in clay-polymer nanocomposites. Complimentary knowledge and practical application of the extensive analytical instruments within MERI (in particularly thermo-analytical) allows an enhanced understanding of the systems and allows further development of the research and novel products.

In addition to being involved in internal, UK government and European Funded projects, Francis actively engages in consultancy and has worked successfully with companies both small and large, national and international.

To help deliver on research projects Francis supervises and works alongside Erasmus and visiting PhD research students to offer working experience via a hands on approach.


Business, Technology and Enterprise

Subject Area/Group: Chemistry

- Introduction to Inorganic and Materials Chemistry (Polymers and Composites), BSc (Hons) Chemistry, Level 4;
- Advanced Inorganic, Physical and Materials Chemistry (Heterogeneous Catalysis), BSc (Hons) Chemistry, Level 6;
- Forensic Chemistry (Materials, Polymers and Composites, and their characterisation), BSc (Hons) Forensic Science, Level 5.


Current projects:
2016 - Present: PF-CLAY - Fire-retardant Nanocomposites for Aircraft Interior Applications. Innovate UK grant.
2010 - Present: CROWD - Controlled release open wound dressings. Funded by SHU Proof-of-Concept Funding.

Selected/Past projects:
2011 - 2015: NewGenPak - New Generation of Functional Cellulose Fibre Based Packaging Materials for Sustainability, a Marie Curie Initial Training Network. Funded under EU FP7.
2009 - 2012: POLYFIRE – Processing and upscaling of fire resistant nano-filled thermosetting polyester resins. EU FP7 funded project.
2008 - 2011: FLEXPAKRENEW – Design and Development of an innovative, eco-efficient, low substrate flexible paper packaging from renewable resources to replace petroleum based barrier films. EU FP7 funded project.
2004 - 2008: SUSTAINPACK: Innovation and Sustainable Development in the Fibre Based Packaging Value Chain. EU funded, FP6 Integrated Project.
2003 - 2006: SUREFIRE – Next generation fire-resistant lightweight structural materials. Basic technologies for Industrial Applications (BTIA) Link programme.
2002 - 2004: PRONACOM: A Fundamental Study of the Processing-Structure-Properties of Nanocomposites for Industrial Applications. EU funded FP5 Project.


Stacey, P., Hall, S., Stagg, S., Clegg, F., & Sammon, C. (2021). Raman spectroscopy and X‐ray diffraction responses when measuring health‐related micrometre and nanometre particle size fractions of crystalline quartz and the measurement of quartz in dust samples from the cutting and polishing of natural and artificial stones. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy.

Stacey, P., Clegg, F., Morton, J., & Sammon, C. (2020). An indirect Raman spectroscopy method for the quantitative measurement of respirable crystalline silica collected on filters inside respiratory equipment. Analytical methods, 12 (21), 2757-2771.

Breen, C., Clegg, F., Thompson, S., Jarnstrom, L., & Johansson, C. (2019). Exploring the interactions between starches, bentonites and plasticizers in sustainable barrier coatings for paper and board. Applied Clay Science, 183, 105272.

Clegg, F., Breen, C., Muranyi, P., & Schönweitz, C. (2019). Antimicrobial, starch based barrier coatings prepared using mixed silver/sodium exchanged bentonite. Applied Clay Science, 179, 105144.

Trifol, J., van Drongelen, M., Clegg, F., Plackett, D., Szabo, P., & Daugaard, A.E. (2019). Impact of thermal processing or solvent casting upon crystallization of PLA nanocellulose and/or nanoclay composites. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 47486.

Trifol, J., van Drongelen, M., Clegg, F., Plackett, D., Szabo, P., & Daugaard, A.E. (2019). Impact of thermal processing or solvent casting upon crystallization of PLA nanocellulose and/or nanoclay composites. Journal of applied polymer science, 47486.

Duncan, O., Clegg, F., Essa, A., Bell, A., Foster, L., Allen, T., & Alderson, A. (2019). Effects of heat exposure and volumetric compression on Poisson's ratios, Young's moduli and polymeric composition during thermo-mechanical conversion of auxetic open cell polyurethane foam. physica status solidi (b), 256 (1).

Laycock, E., Pirrie, D., Clegg, F., Bell, A., & Bidwell, P. (2018). An investigation to establish the source of the Roman lime mortars used in Wallsend, UK. Construction & Building Materials, 196, 611-625.

Mary, N., Rebours, M., Castel, E., Vaishnav, S., Deng, W., Bell, A., ... Bingham, P. (2018). Enhanced thermal stability of high-bismuth borate glasses by addition of iron. Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids.

Porter, C.P., Bezzina, J.P., Clegg, F., & Ogden, M.D. (2018). Polymeric seal degradation in nuclear power plants: Determination of physical and mechanical properties. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 135 (7), 45814.

Cavaye, H., Clegg, F., Gould, P.J., Ladyman, M.K., Temple, T., & Dossi, E. (2017). Primary alkylphosphine–borane polymers: Synthesis, low glass transition temperature, and a predictive capability thereof. Macromolecules, 50 (23), 9239-9248.

Laycock, E., Jefferson, D., Hetherington, S., Clegg, F., & Wood, C. (2017). Revitalising Collyweston limestone slate production by artificial freeze/thaw splitting. Construction and Building Materials, 159, 486-498.

Benassi, L., Dalipi, R., Consigli, V., Pasquali, M., Borgese, L., Depero, L.E., ... Bontempi, E. (2017). Integrated management of ash from industrial and domestic combustion : a new sustainable approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy conversion. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24 (17), 14834-14846.

Keles, H., Naylor, A., Clegg, F., & Sammon, C. (2015). Investigation of factors influencing the hydrolytic degradation of single PLGA microparticles. Polymer Degradation and Stability, 119, 228-241.

Johansson, C., & Clegg, F. (2015). Effect of clay type on dispersion and barrier properties of hydrophobically modified poly(vinyl alcohol)-bentonite nanocomposites. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 132 (28).

Johansson, C., & Clegg, F. (2015). Hydrophobically modified poly(vinyl alcohol) and bentonite nanocomposites thereof: Barrier, mechanical, and aesthetic properties. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 132 (13), 41737.

Clegg, F., Breen, C., & Khairuddin, (2014). Synergistic and competitive aspects of the adsorption of Poly(ethylene glycol) and Poly(vinyl alcohol) onto Na-Bentonite. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 118 (46), 13268-13278.

Barwood, M.J., Breen, C., Clegg, F., & Hammond, C.L. (2014). The effect of organoclay addition on the properties of an acrylate based, thermally activated shape memory polymer. Applied Clay Science, 102, 41-50.

Keles, H., Naylor, A., Clegg, F., & Sammon, C. (2014). The application of non-linear curve fitting routines to the analysis of mid-infrared images obtained from single polymeric microparticles. Analyst, 139 (10), 2355.

Keles, H., Naylor, A., Clegg, F., & Sammon, C. (2014). Studying the release of hGH from gamma-irradiated PLGA microparticles using ATR-FTIR imaging. Vibrational Spectroscopy, 71, 76-84.

Clegg, F., & Breen, C. (2013). Mixed modifier clays and their dispersion in solvent cast polycaprolactone nanocomposites. Applied Clay Science, 85, 80-87.

Breen, A.F., Breen, C., Clegg, F., Döppers, L.-.M., Khairuddin, , Labet, M., ... Yarwood, J. (2012). FTIR-ATR studies of the sorption and diffusion of acetone:water mixtures in poly(vinyl alcohol)-clay nanocomposites. Polymer, 53 (20), 4420-4428.

Clegg, F., Breen, C., Johansson, C., Bras, J., Mondragon, I., Nechita, P., ... Aucejo, S. (2012). Renewable fibers and bio-based materials for packaging applications - A review of recent developments. BioResources, 7 (2), 2506-2552.

Clegg, F., Breen, C., Carter, M.A., Ince, C., Savage, S.D., Wilson, M.A., & Lee, W. (2011). Dehydroxylation and Rehydroxylation Mechanisms in Fired Clay Ceramic: A TG-MS and DRIFTS Investigation. Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 95 (1), 416-422.

Sökmen, M., Tatlıdil, İ., Breen, C., Clegg, F., Buruk, C.K., Sivlim, T., & Akkan, Ş. (2011). A new nano-TiO2 immobilized biodegradable polymer with self-cleaning properties. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 187 (1-3), 199-205.

Clegg, F., Breen, C., Tathdil, I., Sokmen, M., Buruk, C.K., & Bacaksiz, E. (2011). Degradation of Candida albicans on TiO2 and Ag-TiO2 thin films prepared by sol–gel and nanosuspensions. Jounal of Sol-gel Science and Technology, 60 (1), 23-32.

TatlIdil, I., Sökmen, M., Breen, C., Clegg, F., Buruk, C.K., & BacaksIz, E. (2011). Degradation of Candida albicans on TiO2 and Ag-TiO2 thin films prepared by sol-gel and nanosuspensions. Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology, 60 (1), 23-32.

Clegg, F., Breen, C., Herron, M.M., Hild, G.P., Hillier, S., Hughes, T.L., ... Yarwood, J. (2008). Bulk mineralogical characterisation of oilfield reservoir rocks and sandstones using DRIFTS and partial least squares analysis. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 60, 1-17.

Belver, C., Breen, C., Clegg, F., Fernandes, C.E., & Vicente, M.A. (2004). A variable-temperature diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy study of the binding of water and pyridine to the surface of acid-activated metakaolin. Langmuir, 21 (6), 2129-2136.

Greenfield, D., & Clegg, F. (2004). Enhancement of barrier properties in organic coatings using Nanocomposites. Journal of Corrosion Science and Engineering, 8.

Breen, C., Clegg, F., Hughes, T., & Yarwood, J. (2001). Distinguishing interlayer cations in montmorillonite by thermal analysis of demethylformamide-saturated samples. Journal of physical chemistry. B, 105 (21), 4872-4878.

Breen, C., Clegg, F., Hughes, T.L., & Yarwood, J. (2000). Thermal and spectroscopic characterization of N-methylformamide/Ca-, Mg-, and Na-exchanged montmorillonite intercalates. Langmuir, 16 (16), 6648-6656.

Conference papers

Khairuddin, , Pramono, E., Utomo, S.B., Wulandari, V., Zahrotul, A.W., & Clegg, F. (2016). The effect of polyethylene glycol Mw 400 and 600 on stability of Shellac Waxfree. Journal of physics: Conference series, 776 (1), 012054.

Khairuddin, , Pramono, E., Utomo, S.B., Wulandari, V., A'an Zahrotul, W., & Clegg, F. (2016). The effect of polyethylene glycol on shellac stability. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 107 (Conf 1), 012066.

Khairuddin, , Pramono, E., Utomo, S.B., Wulandari, V., Zahrotul, A.W., & Clegg, F. (2016). FTIR studies on the effect of concentration of polyethylene glycol on polimerization of Shellac. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 776 (1), 012053.

Clegg, F., Breen, C., & Bannister, S. (2008). GEOC 223-Effect of dry milling on the structure and thermal stability of a commercial organoclay. ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 235.

Breen, C., Clegg, F., & Bannister, S. (2008). GEOC 224-Influence of clay host on the thermal stability of model organoclays and their commercial counterparts. ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 235.

Zhou, Z., Rainforth, W.M., Lewis, D.B., Creasy, S., Forsyth, J.J., Clegg, E., ... Munz, W.D. (2004). Oxidation behaviour of nanoscale TiAlN/VN multilayer coatings. Surface and Coatings Technology, 177, 198-203.

Theses / Dissertations

Trinh, P.T.D. (2015). Chemical/thermal modification of poly(vinyl alcohol) film for enhanced water vapour barrier properties. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Clegg, F., & Breen, C.

Keles, H. (2014). Mid-IR Imaging and Multivariate Analysis of DynamicProcesses in Pharmaceutically Relevant Microparticles. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Sammon, C.

Barwood, M. (2012). An exploration of shape memory polymers and (nano) composites for packaging applications. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Breen, C., & Clegg, F.

Khairuddin, (2012). Clay-polyvinylalcohol nanocomposites: Competitive adsorption of polyvinylalcohol and plasticizers onto Na-bentonite. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Clegg, F., & Breen, C.

Charlesworth, K. (2007). Development and evaluation of fire retardent unsaturated polyester clay nanocomposites. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Breen, C.

Clegg, F. (1998). Thermo-analytical and spectroscopic characterisation of pore lining minerals in reservoir rocks. (Doctoral thesis).

Other activities

- Treasurer (2016) and committee member (2013-present) for the Clay Minerals Group of The Mineralogical Society;
- Associate Editor for Applied Clay Science;
- Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry;
- Internal and External PhD examiner.

Postgraduate supervision

Francis has previously acted as Director of Studies for two PhD students and as supervisor to 6 internal PhD students.

Past students:
- Trinh Pham. Chemical/Thermal Modification of Poly(vinyl alcohol) Film for Enhanced Water Vapour Barrier Properties. 2016.
- Khairuddin. Clay poly(vinyl alcohol)(PVOH) nanocomposites: competitive and synergistic adsorption of PVOH and plasticisers onto Na-bentonite. 2012.

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