Use of fossil fuels by humans has littered the planet and increased greenhouse gas emissions in the air leading to a Climate Emergency. An alternative to fossil fuels is to use microorganisms which can use polluting waste gases such as CO2 and turn them into valuable biochemicals fit for a green future. Our vision is to develop a novel, disruptive technology to produce functional molecules from CO2, providing a sustainable solution for carbon sequestration and circularity. To achieve this goal, we need to understand and manipulate the microbial and electrochemical processes that drive bioelectrochemical systems (BES). In this program you will advance the understanding of electron transfer at the material and cellular level and will apply the novel insights to manipulate and increase the performance of BES systems.
The ability to study and understand electron transfer in cells and between different cell compartments is paramount to harnessing electrical and cell synthesis. In the current programme we will utilise electroanalytical tools, including potentiostatic and atomic force coupled scanning electrochemical microscopy to measure and control, to aid our understanding at how cell circuits can be engineered to tailor electrical communication with their external surroundings. We will also apply computational multiscale modelling to understand electron transport chains and electric field effects and to inform these engineering approaches.
Novel surface chemistries have been discovered at the University Nottingham to reduce biofilms on medical devices. At the same time chemistries which are able to promote biofilm formation were identified, but this effect was not exploited. We will use these to control bacterial colonisation of electrode surfaces. Biointerfacial characterisation using novel spectrometry approaches will be key to informing on the chemistry at the material-biology interface.
Examples of potential PhD projects will combine chemistry, synthetic biology, engineering and computational modelling to address challenges such as:
- Enhanced electron transfer in bacteria using engineering biology approaches
- Biohybrid and biointerfacial characterisation approaches to study the chemistry at the material-biology interface
- Computational multiscale modelling to understand electron transport chains
- Ionic liquids and polyelectrolytes for application in BES
The first year of this PhD opportunity involves a student-focused and individually tailored programme of technical and laboratory training courses and workshops, designed to provide the students with the skills and confidence required for a successful PhD project. With the support of their academic mentors, the students are also provided with a unique opportunity to design and develop their research projects.
For more information about the research topic, please contact Dr Katalin Kovacs on email@example.com.
For more information about the programme and how to apply, please visit:
Due to our funding restrictions, at this stage of our recruitment process, we are only able to consider applications from candidates with Home fee status.
Application deadline: 20 July 2022