Welcome to the Zhao Group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. We are a polymer chemistry research group, focusing on responsive, functional soft and hybrid materials. The research projects include: (i) macromolecular brush materials, such as polymer brushes on flat substrates, polymer brush-grafted particles (hairy particles), and molecular bottlebrushes, (ii) stimuli-responsive polymers, which can undergo large conformational changes in response to external stimuli, and (iii) liquid crystalline polymers for application as electrocaloric materials. In general, we use “living”/controlled polymerization techniques (atom transfer radical polymerization, nitroxide-mediated polymerization, reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer polymerization, ring-opening polymerization, ring-opening metathesis polymerization, etc.) in conjunction with conventional organic synthesis and click chemistry to synthesize polymers and polymer brushes. These soft and hybrid materials have potential in a wide variety of applications. More information can be found on our research page.