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Fully funded PhD studentship: Mimicking and quantifying bone growth using X-ray spectroscopy and Electron Microscopy

   Department of Physics

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  Dr R Kroger, Dr J Parker  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This exciting project involves a detailed study of the growth of collagen/apatite composites and investigates the collagen-mineral interface over a range of length scales from the nano- to microscale in both biomimetic systems and bone.

Using a unique combination of in situ liquid cell transmission electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy at the University of York and Diamond Light Source this project will focus on the dynamics of the formation of hydroxyapatite in collagen – a key process in tissue mineralisation e.g. in bone or teeth. It is the current understanding that the mineral is formed via an amorphous precursor phase which infiltrates the collagen fibrils before crystallisation. In collaboration with the world-leading group of Prof. Laurie Gower (University of Florida) we will explore the imaging and spectroscopy of the crystallisation dynamics with nanometer spatial resolution in situ to quantify the transport and phase transition processes controlling the formation of hydroxyapatite/collagen composites. For a realistic reproduction of the growth conditions both sample holders will allow for heating. Furthermore, Raman spectroscopy is available at the University of York for spectroscopic characterisation.

The in situ facilities for both electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy will be developed during this project and tested using nanoparticulate materials in collaboration with Smith & Nephews who are supporting this work.

The student will be a member of Dr Roland Kroeger’s research group at the University of York ( and will also have the opportunity to be based 50% of the time at Diamond Light Source (, near Oxford, as part of the X-ray nanoprobe beamline team. Diamond Light Source is the UK’s national synchrotron and a leading scientific facility of its type in the world. Located on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in South Oxfordshire, it hosts research facilities supporting cutting edge research in all fields of science.

The successful candidate for this position is expected to have a university degree in Physics, Physical Chemistry or a related subject with good knowledge of electron microscopy and strong interest in the biological aspects of this project

Funding Notes

Entry requirements and Funding: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Physics or a related subject. This studentship will be offered at an enhanced stipend rate (currently £16,300; to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate for students from UK or EU (currently £4,121 per annum).


This is an interdisciplinary project comprising subjects from Condensed Matter Physics, Physical Chemistry, Biological Physics and Materials Science.
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