Fellow and Tutor in Chemistry

Charlotte K. Williams

  • I am Professor of Inorganic Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry.

  • I work on on how to use and recycle renewable resources, like carbon dioxide or plants, to make polymers. I investigate the properties of those polymers and plastics and how to manage them after use, for example through recycling or biodegradation.

  • I am an EPSRC Established Career Fellow (Manufacturing the Future).

  • I am Principal Investigator for the Oxford Martin School Programme ‘Future of Plastics’.

  • I served on the faculty in the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London from 2003-2016 and was Head of Materials Chemistry there.

  • I hold a degree and PhD in Chemistry from Imperial College London and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota and at Cambridge University.

  • I was appointed an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2020 for services to Chemistry.

Charlotte Williams


I am the Tutorial Fellow in Inorganic Chemistry at Trinity, which means that I teach undergraduate students across all the years of the MChem course . I lecture on Polymerisation Catalysis in the Department of Chemistry. I am a member of the management group for the Centre for Doctoral Training in Inorganic Chemistry for Future Manufacturing (OXICFM), leading on industry engagement. I run a large, multi-disciplinary research group (around 15 people) in the Department of Chemistry, where I supervise postdoctoral researchers, DPhil and undergraduate students doing their Part II (fourth-year undergraduate) research projects.

The Williams Research Group


My research interests are in polymerisation catalysis, polymer chemistry and nanoparticle synthesis. I am motivated to discover how to use and recycle renewable resources, like plants or carbon dioxide, to make useful products like polymers. In the area of inorganic chemistry, research in my group includes the preparation of new metal complexes, their use in homogeneous catalysis, uses of in situ spectroscopy for catalyst characterisation and analysis of the reaction kinetics. 

Some common themes of all catalysis research in my group are to apply earth-abundant and cost-effective metals; to develop efficient processes and to maximise selectivity and control so as to produce valuable products. Polymer chemistry research in my group involves polymer preparation, exploration of materials’ properties and assessments of future applications. We are particularly interested in new oxygenated polymers, such as polyesters/carbonates, and in developing methods to prepare, re-use and recycle polymers as products from bio-refining, industrial wastes and biomass so as to improve sustainability. 

In collaboration with other research groups worldwide, these new polymers have been evaluated for applications including as rigid plastics, elastomers, coatings, fibre-reinforced composites, matrices for tissue engineering, antimicrobial surfaces and as self-assembled nanostructures in controlled release. The application of colloidal nanoparticles, both metals and metal oxides to various gas to liquids transformations, particularly as relevant for the production of fuels is an ongoing research interest. I have enjoyed a range of different industrial collaborations and am motivated by applied research challenges. I also have a network of academic collaborators and am interested in fundamental problems related to catalysis, kinetics and polymer chemistry.

Caption describing the diagram

Selected Recent Publications

Deacy, A. C.; Kilpatrick, A. F. R.; Regoutz, A.; Williams, C. K., Understanding metal synergy in heterodinuclear catalysts for the copolymerization of CO2 and epoxides. Nature Chemistry 2020, 12 (4), 372-380

Sulley, G. S.; Gregory, G. L.; Chen, T. T. D.; Peña Carrodeguas, L.; Trott, G.; Santmarti, A.; Lee, K.-Y.; Terrill, N. J.; Williams, C. K., Switchable Catalysis Improves the Properties of CO2-Derived Polymers: Poly(cyclohexene carbonate-b-ε-decalactone-b-cyclohexene carbonate) Adhesives, Elastomers, and Toughened Plastics. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142 (9), 4367-4378

Hepburn, C.; Adlen, E.; Beddington, J.; Carter, E. A.; Fuss, S.; Mac Dowell, N.; Minx, J. C.; Smith, P.; Williams, C. K., The technological and economic prospects for CO2 utilization and removal. Nature 2019, 575 (7781), 87-97

Stößer, T.; Sulley, G. S.; Gregory, G. L.; Williams, C. K., Easy Access to Oxygenated Block Polymers via Switchable Catalysis. Nature Commun. 2019, 10 (1), 2668-2677

Stößer, T.; Williams, C. K., Selective Polymerization Catalysis from Monomer Mixtures: Using a Commercial Cr-Salen Catalyst To Access ABA Block Polyesters. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57 (21), 6337-6341

Zhu, Y.; Romain, C.; Williams, C. K., Sustainable Polymers from Renewable Resources. Nature 2016, 540 (7633), 354-362



White Papers, Policy Briefings and Reports

Science to Enable Sustainable Plastics – A White Paper from the 8th Chemical Sciences in Society Summit (CS3)” June 2020, rsc.li/sustainable-plastics-report

Sustainable synthetic carbon based fuels for transport: Policy briefing Issued: September 2019 DES6164 ISBN: 978-1-78252-422-9

Sustainable Plastics – The Role of Chemistry’, Royal Society of Chemistry, Materials Chemistry Division, Round-Table Discussion Meeting, March 2019

The potential and limitations of using carbon dioxide’ Royal Society, Issued: May 2017 DES47801 ISBN: 978-1-78252-267-6

Dr. Charlotte K. Williams

Sustainability, environmental impact and responsible innovation need to be integral to the science, manufacturing and design of all materials – not an afterthought.