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Design of functional chitosan films: antimicrobial and heavy metal capture applications

Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

About the Project

Chitosan is a biodegradable polymer obtained from natural, abundant and renewable sources. Chitosan has been the focus of much research into its applications as an antimicrobial, and for its ability to capture heavy metals from contaminated water. To impart mechanical strength, chitosan can be deposited as a thin film onto a supporting substrate, which might be in the form of nanoparticles, fibres, or large surface-area materials. In order to optimise the functionality of these chitosan films, a fundamental understanding of the nature of the interactions between the chitosan and the substrate is required. It is the purpose of this project to provide this insight using molecular modelling, and hence design, manufacture and test new functional coatings with tremendous potential for technological applications.

The project will be undertaken in partnership with Cuantec Ltd, a Glasgow-based biotech company that has developed a unique biological process to extract chitin from the waste produced by fishery processing, from which it makes chitosan. It is funded through the IBioIC Collaborative Training Partnership (, which provides its students with the skills required to significantly contribute to the growth of biotechnology industry.

In addition, the PhD student will also register for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Funding Notes

The studentship fully covers the fees and stipend for UK students. At present, EU students are eligible if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of studentship. Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and an interest in computational research as well as experimental experience. They should also be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research. Experience of biochemistry techniques will be an advantage.

Application deadline: 31 May 2020

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