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Exploiting Microheterogeneity in solvent systems for form and particle control

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr Katharina Edkins, Dr Andrew Leach  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Crystallisation is one of the most common unit operations in the chemical industry and is used to generate final materials with controlled crystal form and particle shape. But to control the crystallisation outcome throughout the scaling-up process is difficult at best. In this project, we will investigate the impact of microheterogeneity in solvent mixtures on the crystallisation outcome. Microheterogeneity forms when two or more solvents phase-separate on the microscopic scale. This thermodynamic property should be stable as long as we stay within the appropriate region of the phase diagram, and effects based on microheterogeneity can be exploited at various scales without change of structure.

The project runs in close collaboration with AstraZeneca as an industrial partner and will look at the impact of microheterogeneity on

1) crystal form: Does the phase separation have an impact on the crystallisation outcome, can we use it to inhibit certain crystal forms or ensure the appearance of others

2) particle characteristics: Can we influence the particle surface and geometry with the microheterogeneity and change their flow characteristics, hygroscopicity, electrostatic behaviour, tablettability etc.?

We will use model compounds in the first place and move to industry-relevant compounds as proof of concept. We will also move the method into model scale-up to show industry applicability.

 The methods used in this project range from crystallisation-relevant techniques and analyses such as vibrational spectroscopy, thermal analysis and diffraction to computation modelling and neutron scattering of the microheterogenous phase. The successful candidate will be trained in all industry-relevant techniques as well as generate a close link to pharmaceutical industry for their further career.

Entry Requirements:

Applicants are expected to hold (or about to obtain) a minimum upper second class undergraduate honours degree (or equivalent) in pharmacy, chemistry, chemical engineering, material science or equivalent. A Masters degree in a relevant subject and/or experience in crystallisation, polymorphism or supramolecular chemistry is desirable. 

How to Apply

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 ( Please select programme PhD Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Equality, diversity and Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

Funding Notes

EPSRC iCASE Award with AstraZeneca. Studentship funding is for a duration of four years to commence on 1 October 2022 and covers UK tuition fees and an annual minimum stipend (£16,062 per annum 22/23). This studentship is open to both UK and international applicants. However, we are only able to offer a limited number of studentships to applicants outside the UK. Therefore, a full studentship will only be awarded to an exceptional quality candidate due to the competitive nature of this funding.


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