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Industrial CASE Studentship with GSK: Tribological mode of action of spherical silica in a tooth brushing contact


   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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  Dr Richard Cook  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team:   Dr. Richard Cook, Prof. Robert Wood, Prof. John McBride and Dr, Ursula McDonnell (GSK)

Project description

Tooth brushing is essential for the maintenance of oral health and in particular the prevention of Caries. The brushing process is a complex tribological contact which is influenced by a number of interrelated variables combining to cause the abrasion which results in the cleaning of the tooth surface. This process sits at a precipice where abrasion is required for cleaning but also has the potential to abrade and irreversibly damage the enamel surface. The ultimate goal in tooth paste development is a paste capable of high levels of stain removal with no enamel abrasion. Recent work has indicated that micronized spherical silica has the potential to reduce enamel and dentine abrasion while providing an enhanced level of cleaning, compared to standard angular silica.

In this PhD, supported by GSK, you will join the national centre for advanced tribology at Southampton (nCATS). You will have the opportunity to use both nanoscale and macroscale tribological testing in partnership with high resolution imaging techniques to study the micro, meso and macro scale abrasion of dentine and enamel, and the interactions between the tissue microstructures and damage mechanisms. Through single particle tests you will build an understanding of the contact conditions required to remove surface stains but also the conditions to cause damage to both tissues. These will then be linked to the surface roughness and topography changes seen in macro-scale brushing simulations. This will provide the basis for a study to identify the optimum spherical silica containing paste formulation for enhanced plaque removal without wear. 

You will be cosupervised by a member of the Oral Health R&D team at GSK, work directly with members of the team during the project and will have the opportunity to spend 3 months with GSK during the course of the project.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: 31 August 2022 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: UK student Tuition Fees and a stipend of £18,285 tax-free per annum for up to 4 years. Funding may be available to cover the tuition fees for suitably qualified international students.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Richard Cook

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Details of two referees who may be contacted

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/courses/how-to-apply/postgraduate-applications.page

For further information please contact: [Email Address Removed]


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