Bio-inspired Supramolecular Polymers for Multifunctional Coatings
Biomimetic and bio-inspired polymer systems have attracted significant research interest in recent years, and a range of molecular structures and synthetic approaches have been reported. From the different systems proposed, the incorporation of chain-end groups or side chains based on L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA, a naturally occurring amino acid derivative) into synthetic polymers has been specifically explored. Such polymers have been designed to mimic the chemical structure of mussel adhesive proteins (MAPs), which is the reason for the remarkable ability of mussels to adhere on a variety of surfaces under very challenging conditions. It is known that MAPs are rich in L-DOPA-containing sequences, and it has been widely postulated that the adhesive and cohesive properties of MAPs can be attributed to the presence of the 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl moieties of L-DOPA residues.
The main objectives of the project are:
• Synthesis and comprehensive characterisation of a wide range of L-DOPA-functionalised bio-inspired compounds, oligomers and polymers, using a validated facile synthetic protocol
• In depth understanding of the structure/property relationships of the synthesised compounds, oligomers and polymers at the molecular level, with particular emphasis on their supramolecular self-assembly behaviour (induced by intermolecular non-covalent interactions; e.g. hydrogen bonding, π-π stacking)
• Assessment of the suitability of the synthesised bio-inspired materials as:
o Polymer binders in functional coating applications for the marine, food and medical industries
o Versatile functional additives (e.g. viscosity modifiers for polymer formulations including 3D printing)
The successful MSc/PhD candidate will work under the supervision of a cross-disciplinary team of collaborators, both in IT Sligo and external, and will avail of a wide range of expertise in Science and Engineering - and particularly at their interface.
Bursaries have two elements:
a.Maintenance grant €13,000 p.a.
b.Tuition fees (currently €819 p.a.) will be paid by the Institute for all holders of student bursaries. Students are liable for their registration fee. The registration fee for 2019-2020 8 is €3,000 p.a. This will be deducted from maintenance grant, with the balance - €10k paid directly to the awardee’s account, monthly. Annual Award: €13,819
A further allocation for consumables may be made , on a case-by-case basis, up to €2k p/a for desk-based projects and €4k p/a for laboratory/field based projects, available for drawdown during the bursary period, but no later.