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A New Approach to Identify Determinants of Strain in the Micro-structure of Biomedical Composites


   Institute of Dentistry

  Dr Slobodan Sirovica, ,  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

A 4-year PhD studentship is available in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, which will commence in September 2021.

Light-activated polymer composite materials, widely used as dental fillings to repair teeth, demonstrate poor longevity compared with traditional silver-amalgam, which are being removed as a clinical treatment option due to environmental concerns. The premature failure of composite dental fillings is attributed to the formation of residual strains, intrinsic to the setting of the material. Despite extensive characterisation, the mechanisms which mediate stress-strain formation are poorly understood and consequently, material performance has not improved in more than a decade amid ongoing research. The direct and indirect costs associated with repeated repair and replacement represents a significant burden on the patient, healthcare provider and wider economy and the provision of durable restorations remains a considerable challenge to clinicians and materials scientist alike. 

The overarching aim of this PhD project is to advance the current fundamental understanding of mechanisms of polymer network formation and strain generation and to realise the impact that this has on the final physico-mechanical properties of dental composite filling materials. In this project, the candidate will combine highly novel deuterium monomer-labelling methods with state-of-the-art central facilities-based characterisation approaches including synchrotron X-ray scattering, neutron scattering, infra-red spectroscopy and in-house mechanical testing to correlate network heterogeneity, strain and mechanical properties to the underlying polymer structure. It is anticipated that the key knowledge outcomes of this project will generate new insights into polymer network formation and stress-strain generation in light-activated composite systems to inform the development of the next generation of dental composites with fewer structural defects to enhance clinical efficacy and service lifetimes.


Funding Notes

The studentship is sponsored by Barts Charity and will provide a stipend of £24,278 increasing to £28,057 per annum for four years. Tuition fees are at QMUL/UK/EU rates.

References

Person specification:
This project is suitable for candidates who have, or expect to gain, a good honours degree (first or upper second) in chemistry, physics, engineering, materials science or a related subject. Experience with a relevant programming language (Python, MATLAB, R, C/C++) would be advantageous.

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