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Bio-Inspired Approaches to Functional Nanocomposites

PGR-P-97

Key facts

Type of research degree
PhD
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Funding
Competition funded
Supervisors
Professor Fiona Meldrum
Schools
School of Chemistry
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This project will develop a novel, experimentally straightforward and highly scalable assembly-based strategy for the generation of functional inorganic nanocomposites. Nanocomposites are an exciting new class of materials, where the ability to engineer compositions, structures and properties at the nanoscale and mesoscale promises the possibility of creating new functionalities. Taking inspiration from the remarkable composite materials that are biominerals, we have pioneered a novel &ldquo;occlusion strategy&rdquo; to create a new class of materials &ndash; single crystals containing embedded nanoparticles &ndash; using polymer-functional nanoparticles as simple crystal growth additives. Control over the surface functionality of the nanoparticles enables us to programme their encapsulation and distribution within the host crystal lattice and therefore tune the physical properties of the nanocomposites. To date we have created composite single crystals comprising calcite (CaCO3) crystals containing polymer particles and polymer-coated Fe3O4 (magnetic) and Au (coloured) nanoparticles. Recent results have shown that it can be extended to other host crystals to create ZnO/ Fe3O4 nanocomposites. We will now develop our fabrication strategy to identify commercially-available organic additives that can be used to drive efficient nanoparticle occlusion. These will be used to incorporate a range of nanoparticles, varying from functional inorganic nanoparticles to emulsion particles, within a variety of host crystals. Particular goals of the project will be to target nanocomposites with photocatalytic properties and nanocomposites for controlled release. Photocatalysts will be created by the occlusion of metal nanoparticles within functional single crystals, while controlled release systems will be generated by encapsulating structures such as gel particles, emulsions and vesicles. The structures and compositions of the composite crystals will be characterised using techniques such as electron microscopy and thermogravimetric analysis, and the mechanism of occlusion using liquid cell AFM. Finally, the physical properties of the composite crystals will be determined, enabling us to link structure with properties. This project will give experience in crystal growth techniques, photocatalysis and controlled-release studies, and a wide range of analytical methods including scanning and transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Raman microscopy, atomic force microscopy and IR spectroscopy.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>The earliest start date for this project will be 1 October 2020.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.leeds.ac.uk/info/130206/applying/91/applying_for_research_degrees">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;Bio-Inspired Approaches to Functional Nanocomposites&rsquo; as well as <a href="https://physicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/staff/202/professor-fiona-meldrum">Professor Fiona Meldrum</a>&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p><strong>Self-Funding Students</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Funding Eligibility</strong></p> <p><strong>UK/EU</strong> &ndash;&nbsp;Leeds Doctoral Scholarship Award paying Academic Fees and Maintenance matching EPSRC rate of &pound;15,009 per year for 3 years, Lowson Research Scholarship paying Academic Fees and Maintenance at a fixed rate of &pound;14,000 per year for 3 years, School of Chemistry Scholarship award paying Academic Fees and Maintenance matching EPSRC rate of &pound;15,009 per year for 3 years.&nbsp; Alumni Bursary is available to previous University of Leeds graduates offering 10% discount on Academic Fees.</p> <p><strong>International Students</strong> &ndash;&nbsp;China Scholarship Council-University of Leeds Scholarship Award paying Academic Fees for 3 years,&nbsp;School of Chemistry Scholarship award paying Academic Fees for 3 years, Commonwealth Scholarship and Commonwealth Split Site Scholarships.&nbsp; Alumni Bursary is available to previous University of Leeds graduates offering 10% discount on Academic Fees.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information regarding your application,&nbsp;please contact Doctoral College Admissions by&nbsp;email: <a href="mailto:maps.pgr.admissions@leeds.ac.uk">maps.pgr.admissions</a><a href="mailto:EMAIL@leeds.ac.uk">@leeds.ac.uk</a>, or by telephone: +44 (0)113 343 5057.</p> <p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Professor Fiona Meldrum by email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="mailto:F.Meldrum@leeds.ac.uk">F.Meldrum@leeds.ac.uk</a></p> <p>.</p>


<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>