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Design of new siderophore-based chelating agents: complexation chemistry with transition metals and evaluation in consumer products


Department of Chemistry

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Prof Gareth Williams No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project will develop new chelating ligands inspired by nature. Funded by an EPSRC ICASE studentship in conjunction with Procter & Gamble (P&G), this 4-year studentship available from October 2021 will include a secondment of at least 3 months at P&G’s Newcastle Innovation Centre. It will be supervised by Prof. J. A. Gareth Williams at Durham University and Dr Linsey Fuller at P&G.

Chelants are widely used in a vast range of products in everyday life, in order to control the concentration and availability of metal ions. For instance, in cleaning products, metal control is important in detergency, stain removal action, and product shelf-life. Although there are many mass-produced chelating ligands available to choose from, almost none meet all of the desirable criteria in today’s world, where issues such as biodegradability and non-hazardous nature of additives are increasingly sought after.

We are excited to begin a project in which we will design and synthesise small molecules based on siderophores. They are chelating molecules that have evolved in nature to help organisms meet their needs for metal ions, in particular iron, which is essential to all life forms. The work will be rooted in the coordination chemistry of transition metal ions. The student’s key roles in this project will be to (i) synthesise a range of molecules based on the chelating units of siderophores; (ii) explore their complexation chemistry with iron and other 1st-row transition metal ions; (iii) evaluate cleaning performance in assays at P&G and correlate it with properties such as metal ion affinity and lipophilicity, ultimately building up a detailed structure-activity relationship. These principal tasks will be informed by complementary molecular modelling and analytical characterisation.

The student will draw on a background in chemistry to develop their skills in synthesis and molecular design, with a focus on bioinspired design, gaining insights into both the academic and industrial significance of the research. 

Eligibility: The position is only open to applicants from the UK for fees purposes. Early applications are strongly encouraged as the position will be filled when a suitable candidate is identified.

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