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Development of Conjugated Polymer Nanoparticles for Application in Biological Imaging

Department of Chemistry

Prof M Turner Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only
Manchester United Kingdom Biochemistry Biophysics Medical Physics Organic Chemistry Other Other Pathology Physical Chemistry Polymer Chemistry Synthetic Chemistry

About the Project

Conjugated polymer nanoparticles are class-leading fluorophores for the imaging of biological samples. They are up to 10x brighter than the brightest quantum dot materials and many orders of magnitude brighter and more photostable than conventional molecular fluorophores. They are generally prepared by precipitation from water miscible solvents or by mixing water immiscible solutions using added surfactant. Neither of these approaches is ideal or easily scaleable as precipitation gives very low concentrations of particles (<100ppm) and excess surfactant (e.g. SDS) must be removed to image living cells. In this PhD project we will develop aqueous dispersions of bespoke conjugated polymer nanoparticles (CPNs) with well-defined sizes (e.g. 20-100 nm) and a variety of colours (blue-NIR) that are prepared at high solids loadings without the use of a stabilising surfactant. The specific objectives of the project are: (i) To prepare conjugated monomers with particle stabilising side chains; (ii) To use of these monomers in combination with conventional co-monomers in surfactant free mini-emulsion synthesis of conjugated polymer nanoparticles; (iii) To optimise the synthesis to produce aqueous dispersions with precise control of particle size and shape; (iv) To couple targeting groups such as antibodies, affimers, proteins to the particle and (v) To demonstrate the potential of these functionalised particles for biological imaging, in IHC and FACS with collaborators in Cancer Sciences. The project is truly multidisciplinary with organic synthesis, analysis, bioconjugation and imaging. Training in all aspects of the project will be provided by researchers in OMIC and Cancer Sciences at the University of Manchester and collaborators at the University of Halle, Germany.

Contact for further Information

Academic background of candidates
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class Honours degree (or the overseas equivalent) in Chemistry and be interested in pursuing highly interdisciplinary research, collaborating with pharmacists, biologists and clinicians. Potential applicants must have good laboratory skills, and experience in organic synthesis and working with biological molecules is advantageous. The successful candidate must be highly motivated, capable of working independently and demonstrate excellent communication skills.

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. For UK students tuition fees are £9,000 and for International students are £26,000 for the 2020/21 academic year.


1 A. Rahmanudin, R. Marcial-Hernandez, A. Zamhuri, A. S. Walton, D. J. Tate, R. U. Khan, S. Aphichatpanichakul, A. B. Foster, S. Broll and M. L. Turner, Adv. Sci., 2020, 8, 2002010–7.
2 P. R. Neumann, D. L. Crossley, M. Turner, M. Ingleson, M. Green, J. Rao and L. A. Dailey, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2019, 11, 46525–46535.
3 B. P. Dash, I. Hamilton, D. J. Tate, D. L. Crossley, J.-S. Kim, M. J. Ingleson and M. L. Turner, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2019, 7, 718–724.
4 D. L. Crossley, L. Urbano, R. Neumann, S. Bourke, J. Jones, L. A. Dailey, M. Green, M. J. Humphries, S. M. King, M. L. Turner and M. J. Ingleson, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2017, 9, 28243–28249.
5 J. A. Carrillo, M. L. Turner and M. J. Ingleson, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138, 13361–13368.
6 D. Muenmart, A. B. Foster, A. Harvey, M.-T. Chen, O. Navarro, V. Promarak, M. C. McCairn, J. M. Behrendt and M. L. Turner, Macromolecules, 2014, 47, 6531–6539.

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