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(EPSRC DTP) Probe the influence of hierarchical structure and composition of dental hard tissues on erosion and remineralisation

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr X Chen, Prof PJ Withers  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Dental erosion is the loss of dental hard tissues (enamel and dentine) by chemical dissolution in the absence of bacterial involvement. It has an increasing prevalence in Western populations leading to sensitivity and the need for complex dental rehabilitations. Development of preventative approaches and remineralisation interventions is limited by a lack of understanding on how variability in the hierarchicalstructure and composition of dental tissue influences erosion patterns. We aim to probe the influence of hierarchical structure and the nanoscale distribution of calcium phosphate phases of dental hard tissues on erosion and remineralisation, and study the change of mechanical properties of enamel and dentine subjected to erosion and remineralisation. Both lab based and synchrotron x-ray diffraction and x-ray computed tomography (xCT) will be used to map the ultrastructural (hydroxyapatite crystallite texture) alignment of dental enamel and dentine. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) characterisation of dental hard tissues in conjunction with electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) will be performed to determine crystallinity, nanostructure and phase composition with high spatial resolution. Nanoscale secondary ion mass spectroscopy (NanoSIMS) will be used to determine the distribution of calcium, phosphate and fluorine at 100 nm resolution (detection of extremely low fluorine is challenging for most characterisation techniques). A specially designed Bruker Hysitron in-situ nanomechanical testing rig with Zeiss Xradia X-ray microscopy system will be employed to allow visualisation of the interactions between the hierarchical structure of enamel, dentine and enamel dentine junction while indentation is taking place. Bruker Hysitron NanoDMA III will be used for continuous dynamic mechanical property measurement in-situ (Young’s modulus and hardness). The successful candidate preferably with Materials, Physics, Chemistry or Dental background and experience on xCT and EM will have access to the world-class characterisation facilities within the Henry Royce Institute at the University of Manchester, including X-ray imaging/tomography instruments at Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility (HMXIF), suites of electron microscopes and X-ray diffractometers, Solid State NMR and the state-of-the-art surface characterisation techniques such as NanSIMS, Hysitron nanoindention and NanoIR. Candidate should also have the opportunity to conduct experiments at the UK National Synchrotron Facility, Diamond Light Source. He/she will also have access to Doctoral Academy Training Programme and opportunities to participate and lead outreach activities.

Dr. Xiaohui Chen

Prof. Philip Withers

Entry Requirements:

Applications are invited from UK nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form. For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (

Funding Notes

EPSRC DTP studentship with funding for a duration of 3.5 years to commence in September 2021. The studentship covers UK tuition fees and an annual minimum stipend £15,609 per annum. Due to funding restrictions, the studentship is open to UK applicants only.
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