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Loading Biopolymer Films with Antibacterial Agents

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Biopolymers are fabricated from biological feed stocks and offer a sustainable alternative to commodity plastics. The addition of antibacterial agents, like silver nanoparticles, can be used to design functional plastic films for applications ranging from smart food packaging to wound dressings. Dispersing the antibacterial agent within the biopolymer film is important for uniform delivery, but remains challenging as most nanoparticles and additives aggregate.

This project deploys biologically sourced or biodegradable block copolymers to engineer nanoscale domains for delivering antibacterial agents within a plastic film. The antibacterial agent is loaded into one domain of the block copolymer, which serves as a holding vessel. When the film comes in contact with a chemical trigger, like water, the antibacterial begins to diffuse to where it is needed. This project aims to establish a set of design rules that will determine what polymer weight and architectures are best for delivering antibacterial agents.

The student will learn the principles of phase behaviour for block polymers and the kinetics of phase transitions, such as crystallisation. Various forms of optical and electron microscopy will be used to image the materials, x-ray and neutron scattering will quantify the structures formed. There is scope for a skilled chemist to synthesize novel block biopolymers.

Funding Notes

Students with a first in chemical engineering, physics, chemistry, material engineering, electrical engineering or a related field may apply. An MEng is not required if the student can demonstrate significant laboratory experience. Qualified transfers from industry are welcome.

If English is not your first language, then you must have International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component.

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