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Nano-Engineered Functional Biomaterials for the Built Environment (Ref: ET20/HLS/APP/JIANG)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 08, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Developing environmentally friendly and sustainable biomaterials for the built environment is necessary to address climate change and reduce carbon dioxide emission. A key challenge is to design and fabricate new high-performance functional materials.

This project will develop Nano-Engineered Functional Biomaterials through living materials fabrication processes. The materials will be designed and produced using microbial cells and their functions will be modified and optimised by grafting small molecules, such as amine, thiol derivatives and nanoparticles. The student will focus on the developing a novel approach to design and modify biomaterials to achieve different functional properties.

We are aiming for these newly developed Nano-Engineered Functional Biomaterials to be applied in a unique Experimental ‘Living House, OME’ to better understand the interaction between a real building, its environment and our functional materials.

The student will gain hands-on experience with microbial cultures, material synthesis, characterisation and testing techniques. The student will receive training on cross-disciplinary support to obtain specialised knowledge and professional skills in the fields of microbiology materials chemistry and nanotechnology through a collaborative network created by the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE).

We are looking for a research driven, problem solving and highly motivated student with an excellent degree in chemistry, materials science or chemical biology to join our multi-disciplinary team. Candidates with ability to think outside the box and come up with cutting-edge research ideas are especially welcome.

The student will undertake a full-time PhD at the world’s first research Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE,, which is a joint initiative between Newcastle University and Northumbria University, funded through Research England’s E3 Scheme. You will work with a group of staff across a wide range of fields from architectural design to bioengineering integrated with three new advanced labs: the Micro Bio-Design Lab, the Macro Bio-Design Lab and a unique Experimental ‘Living’ House, ‘The OME’. This is a great opportunity to work on a new transdisciplinary field by creating and designing functional biomaterials at multiple scales from molecular interactions to whole buildings.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications should include a covering letter that includes a short summary (500 words max.) of a relevant piece of research that you have previously completed and the reasons you consider yourself suited to the project. Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. ET20/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 8th May 2020
Start Date: 1st Aug 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Yunhong Jiang ()

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home and EU students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2020/21, this is £15,285 pa) and full Home/ EU Fees.


Book Chapters

Yunhong Jiang*, Atif Hussain, Davoud M Heidari, Michael Lawrence, and Martin Ansell. Physico-Chemical Characterization and Development of Hemp Aggregates for Highly Insulating Construction Building Materials. In Dr Grégorio CRINI editors: Hemp - production, characterization and applications". Springer Nature in 2020 (Accepted).

Peer-reviewed Journal Papers

Yunhong Jiang*, Annabelle Phelipot-Mardele, Florence Collet, Christophe Lanos, Manfred Lemke, Martin Ansell, Atif Hussain, Michael Lawrence. Moisture buffer, fire resistance and insulation potential of novel vio-clay plaster. Construction and Building Materials, 2020, 244. (IF: 4.046)

Yunhong Jiang*, Michael Lawrence, Atif Hussain, Martin Ansell, Pete Walker. Comparative moisture and heat sorption properties of fibre and shiv derived from hemp and flax. Cellulose, 2019, 26(2), 823-843. DOI: 10.1007/s10570-018-2145-0 (IF: 3.809).

Atif Hussain*, Juliana Calabria-Holley, Mike Lawrence, Martin P. Ansell, Yunhong Jiang, Diane Schorr, Pierre Blanchet. Development of functionalised composites from hemp shiv and sol-gel derived binder. Composites Part B: Applied Science and Manufacturing, 2018, DOI: 10.1016/j.compositesb.2018.08.093 (IF: 5.41)

Yunhong Jiang*, Marion A. Bourebrab, Nadia Sid, Alan Taylor, Florence Collet, Sylvie Pretot, Atif Hussain, Martin Ansell, Michael Lawrence. Improvement of water resistance of hemp woody substrates through deposition of functionalised silica hydrophobic coating, whilst retaining excellent moisture buffering properties. ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b01475 (IF: 6.14)

Yunhong Jiang*, Lingling Zhang, Dongsheng Wen, Yulong Ding. Role of physical and chemical interactions in the antibacterial behaviour of ZnO nanoparticles against E. coli. Materials Science and Engineering: C, 2016; 69: 1361-1366. (IF: 5.080)


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