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Advanced, Tuneable Encapsulates prepared from Biodegradable Polymers and Silica

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, May 12, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) at the University of Bath has now launched a new joint PhD programme with Monash University, Australia. The Bath Monash Global PhD Programme will have its first intake in October this year.

This project is one of a number that are in competition for up to four funded studentships. More details are available here:

Home institution: Monash University
Supervisor at Bath: Professor Janet Scott
Supervisors at Monash: Professor Bart Follink (lead) and Dr Rico Tabor

There is much current interest in the replacement of polymers that can be sources of microplastic pollution, in consumer goods. Microbeads made from polymers (usually fossil carbon derived) that are non-biodegradable have been banned in “rinse-off” products in many countries, including the UK and recent developments in Europe and elsewhere suggest that there will be further focus on sources of microplastics. Another potential source of microplastics in consumer goods are the shells of polymer encapsulated materials (encaps), including perfumes and active ingredients such as bleaches used in clothes wash products, thus, more sustainable alternatives for encaps would be desirable. The challenges are not insignificant, as these must be easy (and cheap!) to prepare in processes that are scalable for manufacturing, robust in formulation (not prone to degradation and not overly fragile), effective in delivery (e.g. adhering/not adhering to garments during washing depending on payload to be delivered), and amenable to breakage or bursting to deliver the payload at the correct time.

Follink et al., have wide expertise in the formation of silica shells and core/shell particles that are tuneable with regards to robustness and surface characteristics. Their capsules have been shown to be capable of being fine-tuned to be loaded with a range of payloads with controlable release characteristics. Moreover, through appropriate surface modification of the silica shell, these capsules can be targeted to selectively adhere to specific substrate chemistries. Scott et al., have developed a series of biodegradable biopolymer supported emulsions and encaps, but these can suffer from a lack of robustness (to drying, for example).

In this joint PhD project we propose to combine these technologies, bringing together the expertise at Monash and Bath universities to expand the range of encap shells that can be produced targeting reinforced and multi-layer shells. Further, as the Bath team have demonstrated the use of continuous membrane emulsification processes to produce narrow particle size droplet distributions, such processes will be incorporated into the project to demonstrate the “manufacturability” of the encaps and the Monash expertise in nano-indentation will be employed to test strength and robustness of structures formed, including under a range of conditions simulating use or release in response to stimuli (e.g. change of pH, temperature or humidity).

We invite applications from Science and Engineering graduates who have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second class degree and have a strong interest in Sustainable Chemical Technologies.

You may express an interest in up to three projects in order of preference. See the CSCT website for more information:

Please submit your application at the Home institution of your preferred project. However, please note that you are applying for a joint PhD programme and applications will be processed as such.

If this is your preferred project, apply to Monash here:

If the Home institution of your preferred project is Bath, apply here:
Please quote ‘Bath Monash PhD studentship’ in the Finance section and the lead supervisor(s)’ name(s) and project title(s) in the ‘Your research interests’ section. More information on applying to Bath may be found here:

Enquiries about the application process should be sent to .

Funding Notes

Bath Monash PhD studentships include tuition fee sponsorship and a living allowance (stipend) for the course duration (up to 42 months maximum). Note, however, that studentships for Bath-based projects will provide cover for UK/EU tuition fees ONLY. Non-Australian nationals studying in Australia will be required to pay their own Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

Additional and suitably qualified applicants who can access a scholarship/studentship from other sources will be also considered.


1. For example, The Environmental Protection (Microbeads) (England) Regulations, 2017, available from
2. ECHA ANNEX XV RESTRICTION REPORT PROPOSAL FOR A RESTRICTION (intentionally added microplastics), 11 January 2019, available from
3. Shane P Meaney, Bart Follink, Rico F Tabor, Synthesis, Characterization, and Applications of Polymer-Silica Core-Shell Microparticle Capsules, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2018, 10, 43068-43079, and S P Meaney, R F Tabor, B Follink, Synthesis and Characterisation of Robust Emulsion-templated Silica Microcapsules, J. Colloid Interface Sci., 2017, 505, 664-672
4. Results not yet published
5. J. Coombs OBrien, L. Torrente-Murciano, D. Mattia, and J. L. Scott Continuous Production of Cellulose Microbeads via Membrane Emulsification, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5, 5931–5939.

How good is research at University of Bath in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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