Welcome to Stellenbosch University

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science​​​​

The Department is one of the pre-eminent research departments in chemistry in South Africa and engaged in a wide range of research areas, including the largest research effort in polymer science in the country. It is also the only department at a South African university offering a BSc degree with a focus on Textile and Polymer Science. In addition, active research groups in the department also focus on important chemical issues involving analytical, supramolecular, physical, inorganic and organic chemistry topics. State of the art research laboratories and equipment support research in the department.


In the Department, although emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary research, the broad research themes can be classified as follows:

Analytical chemistry

A major focus of analytical research is on the use of state-of-the-art chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques for the improved chemical characterisation of complex mixtures, with applications ranging from South African foods to natural products. A further research area involves investigation of the chemistry and separation of the platinum groups metals (PGMs) using computational methods, advanced nuclear magnetic resonance and atomic spectroscopy.

Inorganic and organometallic chemistry

Research initiatives focus on the applications of Inorganic Chemistry in industry and medicine.  This includes the development of new homogeneous catalysts, metallodrugs, and ligand systems for use in extractive metallurgy. Also included is the development and characterization of functional metal nanoparticles for a wide range of applications.

Physical chemistry

This research is focused on the use and application of computational techniques to study the structure and properties of isolated molecules, crystalline systems, and chemical reactions with high-level computational mode.

Organic chemistry

The focus of this discipline involves the synthesis of small organic molecules with distinct functions. This includes the preparation of functional ligands for the development of new selective catalysts and the design and synthesis of small molecules as potential drugs and probes for medicinal chemistry applications in areas such as malaria, HIV-AIDS, COVID-19 and cancer.

Polymer science

As the only chemistry department in the country with an in-depth focus on postgraduate training in polymer science, the University is uniquely positioned to do high-quality research in many of the various areas encompassed by the field, including analytical polymer chemistry, polymerisation methodology and polymer fibres (smart or functional textiles and nanofibres). Research areas include new polymers (free radical polymerisation and coatings; structural properties of polyolefins; advanced macromolecular architectures); polymer characterisation and electrospinning.

Supramolecular chemistry and materials

The focus of groups in this research area is to design, synthesise and characterise new functional materials, particularly porous materials that can be used for gas sorption with application in gas storage and separation. While there is a strong emphasis on application, such new materials often provide interesting insights and lead into other areas of chemistry​.​


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