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High performance natural polymer textiles manufacturing for engineering and biomedical applications MSc by Research

   School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing (SATM)

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  Dr S.S Rahatekar  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Natural polymers like cellulose, chitin, chitosan, alginate are one of the most abundant and renewable polymer with robust mechanical properties. However large scale utilization of cellulose/chitin/chitosan has not been possible because it leaves a large environmental footprint due to the hazardous solvents used during its extraction/processing. Also, cellulose/chitin/chitosan fibres have traditionally been used for mono-functional task such as a material for designing textiles.

The main focus of the proposed research project is to develop multifunctional (electrically conducting) and high performance biopolymer textiles. We have developed an environmentally benign method for manufacturing of cellulose fibres using ionic liquid as a “green” solvent [Rahatekar et al, Polymer, 2010; Zhu et al, ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 2016; Singh et al, Nanoscale, 2017]. Ionic liquids can act as solvent to dissolve conducting polymer such as polyaniline. As a part of this project, we aim to use ionic liquids as a common solvent for dissolving biopolymer (such as cellulose) and polyaniline to produce electrically conducting textile fibres using wet spinning and electrospinning process. Such a textile fibre can be used in a smart shirt which can measure the body temperature and heart rate of a patient or as a soft biocompatible electrode for stimulation of neurons. We will also explore adding natural products such as curcumin (extract from turmeric) which is shown to be effective in antimicrobial and anti-cancerous properties to develop bandage for anti-microbial and potentially help increase the immune response for fighting cancerous cells.

What will you learn during MSc by Research (MSc Training)?

The student will learn the following techniques/skills: 

  • Natural polymer Textiles manufacturing, fibre manufacturing and surface modification
  • Mechanical testing of the textiles to test its performance under stress; electrical conductivity and other functional properties of fibres
  • Textiles for antimicrobial, tissue engineering and other biomedical applications

Industrial Collaborations:

We will work in collaboration with Cambridge Nanosystems (Dr Jinhu Chen), which is a world leading high quality, high performance graphene and nanoparticles synthesis and its industrial applications in engineering sectors. The nanoparticles will be used to reinforce the cellulose and natural polymer fibres to achieve high electrical conductivity and superior mechanical properties of the fibres.

Future Job prospects:

The fibres manufacturing methods will be useful for range of relevant industries working in textiles manufacturing like Du Pont, USA and Europe; Lenzing in Europe, Sappi in South Africa, Rayonier in USA and Australia/New Zealand; Birla Textiles in India; Fulida Group, Sateri Viscose, Sanyou Chemicals, and Yamei Fibres in China; Daicel corporation in Japan.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have an equivalent of first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, science (chemistry/physics) or engineering or closely related field. The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest for industrial research.

How to apply

If you are eligible to apply for this research studentship please complete the online application form.

Funding Notes

The student needs to support the MSc by Research tuition fees (£9,000/year for UK or EU student, and £21,740/year for overseas students) and the living expenses (approximately £800-£1000 per month). The cost for running the composites manufacturing and testing experiments and facilities cost will be supported by the Enhanced Composite and Structures Centre at Cranfield.
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