Charlotte Williams Research

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

Williams Research Group, Oxford, February 2022

  • Lindau Meeting 2022
    • Kat, first year DPhil student in the group, has been selected by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation to participate in the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

  • Nature News Feature on Carbon Upcycling
    • Charlotte Williams discusses, with other experts, the opportunities and challenges associated with using carbon dioxide to make fuels, polymers, concrete and more products. The Nature news article, written by Mark Peplow, was published 29 March 2022.

  • Congratulations to Georgina Gregory for the award of a Junior Research Fellowship in Chemistry at Wadham College
    • Georgina has been awarded a JRF in Chemistry at Wadham to pursue her research into oxygenated polymer electrolytes for use in lithium ion batteries. George is leading a team working across the departments of Chemistry, Materials and Engineering investigating the synthesis, characterization and testing of the new polymers. In addition to her JRF, she is also supported by the Faraday institution project SOLBAT where she is a research theme leader (composite cathode).

  • Congrats to Gloria Rosetto and Wilf Diment for each winning a poster prize at the EYCheM Conference, hosted virtually by the University of Fribourg (CH).
    • January 2022

  • Congratulations to Dr Said Said, Dr Greg Sulley, and Dr Wilf Diment for completing their PhD Vivas!  November 2021

  • Charlotte Williams Presents at COP26
    • Last week Charlotte attended COP26 and presented on our work on carbon dioxide utilization. Her presentation was in the UK Pavilion as part of Science and Innovation Day on ‘Innovation and Diversity’. Charlotte joined other women from across the world to discuss the opportunities and challenges in this area. She highlighted the opportunity for innovation to create methods to add value to carbon dioxide wastes and to transform them into useful products, like polymers. She also reflected on the challenges of achieving greater diversity in academic chemistry as well as in entrepreneurship. You can see the panel discussion here:

  • Williams Group Polymers Feature in the London Design Museum Exhibition ‘Waste Age’
    • Our work is currently featured at The Design Museum London in the exhibition “Waste Age: What can design do?”. Our exhibit demonstrates how polymers can be made from waste CO2 and citrus peel (limonene oxide). These polymers could be useful contributors to a future circular economy where our waste can be utilised to make new, high performance materials. In an accompanying film, Prof. Charlotte Williams discusses how our chemistry might contribute to a sustainable future for plastics. The exhibition is open until 20 February 2022.

We thank the London Design Museum Felix Speller for the photograph

  • Well done Wilf for winning a poster prize at the AGICHEM 2021 conference, hosted virtually by Imperial College London
    • September 2021

  • Congratulations to Part II student Matylda for successfully completing and handing in her thesis.  She has done exceptionally well during these difficult times -- we wish you the best for the future!
    • June 2021

  • Charlotte Williams elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, May 2021
    • Charlotte has been elected as one of 60 new fellows of the Royal Society in 2021. The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of the world's most eminent scientists, living and working in the UK and the Commonwealth, and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Each member has been selected for their outstanding contributions to their scientific field. Professor Charlotte Williams OBE becomes a Fellow for her work in developing new sustainable technologies for polymer production and carbon dioxide usage. She aims to combine unconventional raw materials with implementable materials production, processing and to provide polymers designed for recycling and, ultimately, complete degradation. More information can be found on her fellows page: Charlotte Williams | Royal Society

  • Hot Paper Angew. Chem. Int. Ed, May 2021
    • Congratulations to Alex for an Angewandte Chemie 'hot paper' for his work on heterotrimetallic catalysts for carbon dioxide copolymerization and switchable catalysis Alex's paper describes a series of new heterometallic catalysts featuring Na(I) and Zn(II) ions which show efficient catalysis for carbon dioxide/epoxide ROCOP. The catalysts allow for the selective placement of ether linkages in the polymer chains and particularly at chain ends, which serves to stabilise the resulting PCHC. The paper includes detailed kinetic investigations which shed light on the catalysts unusual selectivity and allow for understanding of their performances in switchable polymerizations using epoxide, carbon dioxide and anhydride monomers. It also includes a structure-activity study using other metals which underscores the unique and important role for Na(I) in the best performing catalysts.

  • UK Catalysis Hub PhD Student Webinar, April 2021

  • Unilever Clean Future Brilliance Award 2021
    • Profs. Williams (Oxford), Rosseinsky (Liverpool) and Cooper (Liverpool) have been jointly award a Unilever Clean Future Supplier’s Brilliance Award 2021.  The award, given for the first time to an academic team, recognises the individuals work unlocking new areas of materials science such as breakthrough catalysts transforming carbon dioxide to chemicals.

  • Dr Fernando Vidal Pena awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowshi, February 2021
    • Congratulations to Fer on being awarded the MSCA Fellowship, to make Poly-SO2 to explore new directions and materials in ring-opening copolymerization.

  • Super Science Saturdays, Oxford University Natural History Museum
    • Our work featured on Saturday 28 November 2020 the Oxford University Museum of Natural History Super Saturdays Exhibit ‘Diversity in Plastics’. Our interactive and virtual exhibit uses a polymer lifecycle to  stimulate engagement, discussion and exploration through a series of tasks to our approach to improve sustainability across the life cycle. It also uses this cycle to introduce some of the Williams team and explain what motivates them and what might happen in a typical day doing research.  

  • Congratulations Dr Natalia Reis on completing her PhD viva, October 2020

  • Congratulations Dr Fernando Pena for being awarded a Newton International Fellowship 2020 sponsored by the Royal Society! Fer aims to broaden the scope of CO2 copolymerisation to make sustainable polymers with improved mechanical/physical properties and implement new routes of chemical degradation and depolymerisation.
    • October 2020

  • Congratulations Professor Charlotte Williams for being recognised by the Queen of England as an Officer for the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for outstanding services in Chemistry
    • October 2020

  • Dr Alex Plajer awarded Royal Commission of 1851 Research Fellowship
    • Congratulations to Alex who has been awarded a Royal Commission of 1851 Research Fellowship for 2020!  Alex will use his fellowship to investigate catalysts and polymerization processes to make new polymers and materials with a focus on high performance sustainable materials.
    • Read more about his research here

  • Congratulations Dr Nattawut (Peck) Yuntawattana on completing his PhD viva, September 2020
    • Congratulation to Peck on a successful DPhil viva for this thesis.  With thanks to the Royal Thai Government Scholarship which supported his studies in Oxford. We wish him all the best on his immediate return to Thailand and for his subsequent postdoctoral studies in the USA.

  • Congratulations PhD student Gloria Rosetto for receiving the Student Union Award "Sustainable Advocate"
    • With the most nominations of anyone, this beloved E&E rep has a true record of advocating for sustainable living, during lockdown no less!

  • Congratulations to 2020 Part II Students Emma Moreby and Nathan Zhang on both achieving First Class MChem Degrees!  Emma was also awarded the Inorganic Chemistry Part II Thesis Prize – Congratulations Emma, fantastic news.

  • Congratulations to our students Nathan Zhang and Emma Moreby for successfully completing and handing in their part II theses.  Great effort in these difficult times and we wish you both every success in your future careers!
    • June 2020

  • Science to Enable Sustainable Plastic, June 2020
    • The worst environmental impacts of plastics are a common sight in the news or on social media – but they also fulfil vital roles in society, and in some cases can even be a more sustainable option compared to alternatives. But more research is urgently needed in order to make them fit for the future. In November 2019, Charlotte Williams chaired a group of researchers, representative of learned societies, and funders from China, Germany, Japan and the UK at the Chemical Sciences and Society Summit (CS3). Over the course of a three day summit, they developed a plan for how to create a circular economy for plastics, preserving the crucial function they serve in society while introducing much better recyclability and reusability into their design. Today we’re announcing publication of the white paper, which outlines four major research challenges – areas in urgent need of development.
    • Read the report now
    • Forbes article about the report including an interview with Charlotte Williams

  • Congratulations to Tom Chen on completing his PhD viva - Dr Chen, April 2020

  • Congratulations to Arron on the publication of his work on heterodinuclear catalysts for carbon dioxide and epoxide copolymerization in Nature Chemistry. The paper describes a highly active and selective Co(II)Mg(II) catalyst which shows remarkably enhanced performance compared to any homodinuclear analogue.  Through detailed investigation of the polymerization kinetics, the factors influencing the synergy in this catalyst are also explored, with the Co(II) being responsible for reducing the transition state enthalpy and the Mg(II) reducing the transition state entropy compared to homodinuclear analogue catalysts.  This rare insight into how heterodinuclear synergy or cooperativity enhances performances may be more generally applicable and could be a new design feature to exploit in preparing polymerization catalysts. 

  • Oxford Martin School Lecture by Charlotte Williams, 20th of February 2020
    • Thanks to the Oxford Martin School for hosting and chairing Charlotte’s public lecture “Future Options for Making Plastics More Sustainable.” It was inspiring and interesting to hear the range of audience views and to discuss some of the technical options available now and in future to improve plastics’ sustainability.

  • Macro Group UK Award

  • Charlotte Williams and Sebastian Perrier (Warwick University) are jointly awarded the Macro Group UK Medal.  Hugo Bronstein (Cambridge University) wins the Macro Group UK Young Researcher Medal (Hugo is a former Williams group PhD student). Dr John Tobin and Dr Pratik Gurnani are jointly awarded the John Weaver PhD Prize. Congratulations to all the prize winners and thanks to the Macro Group UK committee for organizing a very interesting symposium at Warwick University.
    • November 2019

  • Chemical Sciences and Society Summit: Charlotte is chairing the 8th Chemical Sciences and Society Summit (CS3) Science to Enable Sustainable Plastics at the Royal Society of Chemistry in London.
    • 10-13 November

  • Nature: A recent publication by an international team, including Charlotte Williams, in Nature highlights the potential and future challenges in scaling carbon dioxide utilization across a range of agricultural and industrial sectors.”
    • November 2019

  • Periodic: Our research was featured on Oxford Chemistry's annual magazine called Periodic
    • October 2019

  • Plastics Transformation Map: Partnership with the World Economic Forum through the Future of Plastic program at the Oxford Martin School to create a Plastics Transformation Map, in which the key issues related to plastics are addressed. It also shows the interconnectedness of the problem by relating it to other world issues. 
    • September 2019

  • EPSRC Fellowship: Awarded a 5-year fellowship to investigate how to make the production of plastics more environmentally friendly. 
    • September 2019

An image showing a bicycle whose back tire has been replaced by a recycling symbol

  • ​​Congratulations to Tim Stößer on completing his DPhil viva - Dr Stößer (November 2018)

  • Congratulations to Dan Mulryan for being awarded the Part II Thesis Prize in Inorganic Chemistry (October 2018)

  • ​Congratulations to Alice Leung on completing her DPhil viva - Dr Leung (October 2018)


  • International Coordination Chemistry Conference (ICCC2018), Sendai, Japan (August 2018)
    • Arron Deacy - Highly Active Magnesium-Cobalt Catalyst for the ROCOP of CO2-CHO
      • Congratulations to Arron for being awarded the ICCC2018 Poster Prize!


  • Congratulations to Ni Yi on completing her DPhil Viva - Dr. Yi (June 2018)


  • Congratulations to Gemma Trott on completing her DPhil Viva - Dr. Trott! (May 2018)

  • Faraday Discussion: Designing Nanoparticle Systems for Catalysis, London (May 2018)
    • Saïd Saïd - Organometallic Route to Exfoliated Layered Zinc Hydroxides (LZHs) (Poster)
      • Congratulations Said for being awarded The Faraday Discussions Poster Prize

  • Congratulations to Prof. Charlotte Williams, awarded the 2018 Otto Roelen Medal!
    • Charlotte Williams is the recipient of the DeChema Otto Roelen Medal for 2018. It is awarded by DECHEMA and the German Catalysis society every two years for outstanding scientific work in the field of catalysis, the award is sponsored by OXEA GmbH.  She was awarded the Medal at the 51st German Catalysis Meeting, held in Weimar from 14-16 March 2018.

(German Catalysis Meeting, Weimar, 2018)

  • Congratulations Charlotte Coleman on completing her DPhil Viva - Dr. Coleman! (February)

  • UK Catalysis Conference (UKCC2018), Loughborough (January 2018)
    • Tim Stößer - Selective Polymerization Catalysis: Using Metal - Salen Catalysts to Selectively Polymerize from Mixtures of Monomers (Keynote)
    • Alice Leung -  Colloidal Cu/ZnO Nanocatalysts for the Hydrogenation of CO2 to Methanol: The Influence of the Synthetic Route (Oral)
    • Arron Deacy* - Heterodinuclear Catalysts (LZnMXn) For CO2-CHO Copolymerisation (Poster)
    • Tom Chen - Multiblock Copolymers From 4 Monomer Mixture Using a ‘Switchable’ Catalyst (Poster)
    • Nattawut Yuntawattana - Phosphasalen Indium Ring Opening Polymerisation Catalysts: High Iso-selectivity to Produce Stereoblock PLA (Poster)
    • Dr. Sumesh Raman - Recycling CO2 in Polymer Synthesis: Selective Catalysis Using O-Carboxyanhydrides and Epoxides to Make Poly(ester-b-carbonates) (Poster)

(*Winner of the UKCC2018 Poster Prize)


  • Congratulations to Prof. Charlotte Williams, awarded the Sir John Meurig Thomas Catalysis Medal 2017!
    • Charlotte Williams has won the Sir John Meurig Thomas Catalysis Medal for outstanding achievement in catalysis for multidisciplinary contributions to the development and applications of catalysts for sustainable chemistry. She was awarded the medal at the UK Catalysis Hub Winter Conference on the 14th of December 2017. The award is made by the UK Catalysis Hub to recognise the achievements of a mid-career scientist working in catalysis in the United Kingdom.

(UK Catalysis Hub, Winter Conference, 2017)

  • Frontiers in Green Materials, London (December 2017)
    • Tim Stößer - Block Copolyesters from Mixed Monomer Feedstocks: A One-Pot Combination of ROCOP and ROP (Oral)
    • Dr. Yunqing Zhu - Semi-Renewable Multi-block Polyesters Demonstrating High Elasticity and Shape Memory Effects (Poster)
    • Ni Yi -  (Poster)
    • Tom Chen - Semi-Renewable Multiblock Copolymers from Monomer Mixtures using a ‘Switchable’ Catalyst (Poster)

  • International Symposium on Ionic Polymerization, Durham (September 2017)
    • Tim Stößer - Block Copolyesters from Mixed Monomer Feedstocks: A One-Pot Combination of ROCOP and ROP (Poster)

  • Dalton Young Members Event (DYME), Bath (September 2017)
    • Dr. Christopher B. Durr - O-Vanillin Derived Titanium Phenoxyimine Initiators for Ring Opening Polymerisation of Macrolactones (Oral)
    • Arnaud Thevenon -  Indium Phosphasalen Catalysts for Low CO2 Pressure/Epoxide Copolymerisation: Evidence of an Unexpected Mononuclear Pathway? (Oral)
    • Alice Leung - Layered Zinc Hydroxide Monolayers by Hydrolysis of Organozincs (Oral)
    • Charlie Coleman - Asymmetric hybrid salen/phosphasalen group 13 initiators for the iso-selective ring-opening polymerisation of rac-lactide (Poster)
    • Gemma Trott - Synergy using Zinc and Magnesium: Heterodinuclear polymerisation catalysis showing enhanced performances (Poster)
    • Nattawut Yuntawattana - Indium Phosphasalen Catalysts: Synthesis, Characterization and High iso-selective in ROP of rac-lactide (Poster)

  • BASF International Summer Course, Ludwigshafen (August 2017)
    • Tim Stößer - Selective Synthesis of Block Copolyesters from Mixed Monomer Feedstocks (Poster)

  • The Times Newspaper - Feature Article - Econic Technologies (August 2017)

(Image - The Times Online)


  • International Symposium on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry, Cambridge (July 2017)
    • Arnaud Thevenon - Switchable Dizinc Macrocycle Catalysts: From Highly Active Lactide Polymerization to Block Copolymers (Poster)
    • Gemma Trott - Synergy using Zinc and Magnesium: Heterodinuclear polymerization catalysis showing enhanced performances (Poster)

  • Macro Group YRM, Edinburgh (June 2017)
    • Tim Stößer* - Selective Synthesis of Block Copolyesters From Mixed Monomer Feedstocks (Poster)

(*Winner of the Macro Group YRM Poster Prize)


  • 100th Canadian Chemistry Conference, Toronto, (May 2017)
    • Gemma Trott - Synergy using Zinc and Magnesium Heterodinuclear Polymerization Catalysis Showing Enhanced Performances (Oral)

  • Royal Society Discussion Meeting - Providing sustainable catalytic solutions for a rapidly changing world (May 2017)
    • Prof. Charlotte Williams - Catalysts control to allow selective polymerizations from mixtures: a useful strategy to deliver future materials
    • Dr. Jennifer Garden - Synergic heterodinuclear catalysts: applications in CO2/epoxide copolymerisation (poster)


  •  253rd ACS National Meeting & Exposition - San Francisco, USA (April 2017)
    • Prof. Charlotte Williams
      1. Switchable polymerization catalysts: Selective block copolymers from monomer mixtures (oral)
      2. Greater than the sum of their parts: Heterodinuclear polymerization catalysts (oral, ACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry: Symposium in honor of William B. Tolman)
    • Charlie Coleman - Asymmetric hybrid salen/phosphasalen initiators for the iso-selective ring-opening polymerisation of rac-lactide (oral)
    • Alice Leung - Organometallic route to layered zinc hydroxides and their exfoliated monolayers in apolar solvents (oral)
    • Arnaud Thevenon - Dizinc lactide polymerization catalysts: Hyperactivity by control of ligand conformation and metallic cooperativity (oral) & Switchable di-zinc macrocycle catalysts: From highly active lactide polymerization to block copolymers (poster)

  • Congratulations to the following previous post docs of the group, we are all very sad to see you leave and we wish you all the best for your future endeavours! (2016)

  • Congratulations to Gemma Trott for winning the Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Dalton Poster competition at Dalton 2016, Warwick!

Econic Technologies

In 2011, Prof. Williams founded Econic Technologies which commercialises catalysts allowing the transformation of carbon dioxide to polymers.