Nico Bruns

Prof, Dr.

  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile

Research Interests

Synthetic polymers have contributed to many innovations in all aspects of modern life. Significant progress has been made in synthetic methods to obtain functional polymers, in the fabrication of polymeric nanostructures and in the fundamental understanding of their physicochemical properties. However, compared to the properties and functions of nature’s macromolecules, even the most sophisticated synthetic polymers still appear to be simple and only offer comparably basic functionality. Proteins are fascinating macromolecules, particularly from a polymer chemist’s point of view. The vast variety of functions that proteins can fulfill is not seen in any synthetic material. Enzymes for example act as catalysts, while other proteins fluoresce or control transport across cell membranes. Moreover, certain proteins can self-assemble into nanocontainers and nanoreactors. All these functions are essential molecular mechanisms that enable life and render living tissue responsive and adaptive.

My research encompasses an interdisciplinary, bio-inspired approach that combines polymer chemistry and protein engineering to create new opportunities for the sustainable synthesis of polymers and to design, engineer and realize materials and nanosytems with unprecedented new functions. Examples are the use of enzymes as catalysts for atom transfer radical polymerizations, the use of biocatalysis for malaria diagnostics, to develop polymersome- and protein-based nanoreactors for enzymatic reactions, and to use proteins as force-responsive sensor molecules in fiber-reinforced composite materials.


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Selected Publications:

  1. Rifaie-Graham, O.; Pollard, J.; Raccio, S.; Balog, S.; Rusch, S.; Hernández-Castañeda, M. A.; Mantel, P.-Y.; Beck, H.-P.; Bruns, N., Hemozoin-catalyzed precipitation polymerization as an assay for malaria diagnosis. Nature Commun. 2019, 10, 1369. Link
  2. Rifaie-Graham, O.; Ulrich, S.; Galensowske, N. F. B.; Balog, S.; Chami, M.; Rentsch, D.; Hemmer, J. R.; Read de Alaniz, J.; Boesel, L. F.; Bruns, N., Wavelength-Selective Light-Responsive DASA-Functionalized Polymersome Nanoreactors. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 8027-8036. Link
  3. Rother, M.; Barmettler, J.; Reichmuth, A.; Araujo, J. V.; Rytka, C.; Glaied, O.; Pieles, U.; Bruns, N., Self-Sealing and Puncture Resistant Breathable Membranes for Water-Evaporation Applications. Adv. Mater. 2015, 27, 6620-6624. Link
  4. Renggli, K.; Nussbaumer, M. G.; Urbani, R.; Pfohl, T.; Bruns, N., A Chaperonin as Protein Nanoreactor for Atom-Transfer Radical Polymerization. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 1443-1447. Link
  5. Silva, T. B.; Spulber, M.; Kocik, M. K.; Seidi, F.; Charan, H.; Rother, M.; Sigg, S. J.; Renggli, K.; Kali, G.; Bruns, N., Hemoglobin and Red Blood Cells Catalyze Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization. Biomacromolecules 2013, 14, 2703-2712. Link
  6. Sigg, S. J.; Seidi, F.; Renggli, K.; Silva, T. B.; Kali, G.; Bruns, N., Horseradish Peroxidase as a Catalyst for Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization. Macromol. Rapid Commun. 2011, 32, 1710-1715. Link


Personal Statement

Contact Details 

Prof. Dr. Nico Bruns, FRSC

Professor of Sustainable Functional Polymers

Department of Chemistry

Technical University of Darmstadt

Alarich-Weiss-Straße 4

64287 Darmstadt



Visiting Professor of Macromolecular Chemistry

Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry

University of Strathclyde

Thomas Graham Building

295 Cathedral Street

Glasgow G1 1XL



Tel: +49 6151 16-21589




Twitter:; @Bruns_Lab

Google Scholar: Link



Career Synopsis

  • 2021 – present: Professor of Sustainable Functional Polymers, Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany and Visiting Professor of Macromolecular Chemistry, University of Strathclyde
  • 2018 – 2021: Professor of Macromolecular Chemistry, University of Strathclyde
  • 2013 – 2018: Associate Professor of Macromolecular Chemistry, Adolphe Merkle Institute, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 2008 – 2013: Habilitand (Independent Research Group Leader), Department of Chemistry, University of Basel, Switzerland; Habilitation Mentor: Prof. Wolfgang Meier
  • 2007 – 2008: Postdoctoral Researcher with Prof. Douglas S. Clark, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • 2003 – 2007: PhD in Chemistry with Prof. Rolf Mülhaupt and Jörg C. Tiller, University of Freiburg, Germany

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production


  • Polymer chemistry
  • Biocatalysis
  • Bio-inspired materials
  • Bio-nanotechnology


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