Dr Joao T Cabral

tel: +44 (0)20 7594 1662
ext: 1662
fax: +44 (0)20 7594 5638

Chemical Eng

Research interests:

Experimental soft condensed matter involving the study of complex fluids
Polymers, copolymers
Nano-particles & surfactants
Microfluidics, micro and nanopatterning
Neutron, X-ray and light scattering; AFM


  • 2005 - present: Lecturer in Chemical Engineering , Imperial College London.
  • 2002 - 2005: Foreign Guest Researcher, Polymers division , National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA.
  • 1998 - 2002: PhD in Polymer Science, "Polymer Blends: Equilibrium, Dynamics and Phase Separation" with Prof. Dame Julia S. Higgins.
  • Dept. Chemical Engineering, Imperial College, London, UK (Weinberg Prize).
  • 1997: Laboratoire Léon Brillouin (CEA-CNRS), Saclay, France. Diffusion & Dynamics group, 
  • 1996:  Royal Institute of Technology  (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 1992 - 1997: Undergraduate Physics, Instituto Superior Técnico , Lisbon, Portugal.



Our Polymers & Microfluidics group is centred on experimental soft condensed matter. We study complex fluids, often multicomponent systems, containing polymers, copolymers, (nano)-particles and surfactants. Microfluidics provides unique opportunities to synthesise, formulate, process and analyse fluids and is therefore explored in our work.
Additionally, we employ extensively scattering (light, X-rays and neutrons), microscopy, calorimetry and spectroscopy - but we also develop our own measurement tools. Particularly, we resort to novel combinatorial and high-throughput techniques to address problems with large parameter space where conventional experimentation becomes unfeasible. We have developped novel nano and microfabrication approaches using frontal photopolymerisation and self-assembly, with applications in microfluidics, functional and responsive materials.

Phase behaviour

Combinatorial polymer mixture (PS/PB) library and sequential 2D scattering pattern during spinodal decomposition.


Fluid thread breakup under microfluidic confinement with applications in oil recovery and biology.

Surface patterning

Nano/micro-surface patterns, with tuneable amplitude, wavelength and topography (spinodal shown here), are readily induced by plasma oxidation and simultaneous multi-axial strain of elastomer membranes.

Recent Publications

  • A. Chiche, C. M. Stafford and J. T. Cabral*, "Complex micropatterning of periodic structures on elastomeric surfaces" Soft Matter Communications (ASAP 2008). [PDF File]
  • M. Q. Tran, J. T. Cabral, M. S. P. Shaffer and A Bismarck, "Direct measurement of the wetting behaviour of individual carbon nanotubes by polymer melts: the key to carbon nanotube-polymer composites" Nanoletters 8, 2744-2750 (2008).
  • J. T. Cabral and S. D. Hudson, "Rapid Interfacial Tension Measurements in Microfluidics", Lab Chip 6, 427 (2006).
  • A. Sanz, M. Ruppel, J. F. Douglas and J. T. Cabral, "Plasticisation effect of C60 on the fast dynamics of polystyrene and related macromolecules: an incoherent neutron scattering study", J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 20, 104209 (2008).
  • Hudson,S.D., Cabral,J.T., Goodrum Jr,W.J., et al , Microfluidic interfacial tensiometry (Article no. 081905), Applied Physics Letters, 2005, Vol: 87, ISSN: 0003-6951
  • Warren,J.A., Cabral,J.T., Douglas,J.F., Solution of a field theory model of frontal photopolymerization (Article no. 021801), Physical Review E (Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics), 2005, Vol: 72, ISSN: 1539-3755
  • Vogel, BM, Cabral, JT, Eidelman, N, et al , Parallel synthesis and high throughput dissolution testing of biodegradable polyanhydride copolymers, J COMB CHEM, 2005, Vol: 7, Pages: 921 - 928, ISSN: 1520-4766
  • Cabral, JT, Douglas, JF, Propagating waves of network formation induced by light, POLYMER, 2005, Vol: 46, Pages: 4230 - 4241, ISSN: 0032-3861
  • Cygan, ZT, Cabral, JT, Beers, KL, et al , Microfluidic platform for the generation of organic-phase microreactors, LANGMUIR, 2005, Vol: 21, Pages: 3629 - 3634, ISSN: 0743-7463
  • Cabral, JT, Karim, A, Discrete combinatorial investigation of polymer mixture phase boundaries, MEAS SCI TECHNOL, 2005, Vol: 16, Pages: 191 - 198, ISSN: 0957-0233
  • Cabral, JT, Hudson, SD, Harrison, C, et al , Frontal photopolymerization for microfluidic applications, LANGMUIR, 2004, Vol: 20, Pages: 10020 - 10029, ISSN: 0743-7463
  • Wu, T, Mei, Y, Cabral, JT, et al , A new synthetic method for controlled polymerization using a microfluidic system, J AM CHEM SOC, 2004, Vol: 126, Pages: 9880 - 9881, ISSN: 0002-7863
  • Hudson, SD, Phelan, FR, Handler, MD, et al , Microfluidic analog of the four-roll mill, APPL PHYS LETT, 2004, Vol: 85, Pages: 335 - 337, ISSN: 0003-6951
  • Norman, AI, Cabral, JT, Karim, A, et al , Scattering measurements for high throughput materials science researh, MACROMOL RAPID COMM, 2004, Vol: 25, Pages: 307 - 311, ISSN: 1022-1336
  • Harrison, C, Cabral, J, Stafford, CM, et al , A rapid prototyping technique for the fabrication of solvent-resistant structures, J MICROMECH MICROENG, 2004, Vol: 14, Pages: 153 - 158, ISSN: 0960-1317
  • Cabral,J.T., Luzar,A., Teixeira,J., et al , Single-particle dynamics in D

Research Highlights

The London Centre for Nanotechnology and the National institute for standards and technology report a simple methodology to...
  • Properties of Matter (1st year). Physical-Chemistry covering introductory Quantum Mechanics, Atoms, Molecules and Spectroscopy.
  • Polymers (4th, MSc). A multi-disciplinary course about polymer chemistry, physics and engineering.
  • Product Characterisation (4th, MSc). A broad characterisation course, including spectroscopy, scattering and interfacial measurements.