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Nanochemistry - Functional ‘Smart’ Nanoparticles and their Sensing Applications - PhD Physics (Funded)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, June 30, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Project Description:

Smart Nanoparticles for Sensing and Manipulation of Single Biomolecules

Laser light can be used to perform multiple roles, including sensing, manipulating and moving objects. It is remarkable that the application of light allows one to detect single molecules and exert minute optical forces on individual molecules. By detecting and pulling on individual molecules it has been possible to study DNA and protein structures in great detail. Single-molecule sensing and manipulation has led to significant advances in chemistry and biophysics: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2018/ashkin/lecture/.

You will develop an entirely novel and much more sensitive technology to detect and manipulate single molecules with light. You will develop smart nanoparticles as optical nanosensors. The smart nanoparticles will provide you with an eye into the nanoworld where you will detect and manipulate single molecules. Smart nanoparticles will provide you with optical ’hands’ to probe and feel-out miniscule forces of biomolecules. You will study the forces that move motor proteins and enzymes. Smart nanoparticle sensors will allow you to precisely sense and measure the energetics of conformational changes of motor proteins and enzymes, i.e. their own deforming motion. Such measurements will provide you with fundamental insights into the miniscule forces that drive the Nano world and which you will measure for the first time. See https://www.vollmerlab.com/.

The technology developed in this programme is based on smart nanoparticles. In the first part of the project you will work with chemists to develop and synthesise nanoparticle-based single molecule sensors. In the second part of the project you will work with physicists to combine the nanoparticle sensors with optical instrumentation to detect and manipulate single molecules. You will use the nanoparticle based sensor technology not only to sense forces exerted by enzymes, but also to manipulate the complex motions of active enzymes. Such control offers the possibility of making some patterns of molecular organisation in an enzyme more likely than another, and can be used to control enzymatic activity.

What we are looking for: well-motivated students with background in either physical chemistry, nanotechnology, nano sensing, biophysics, engineering, physics, single molecules or optical tweezer.

Funding Notes

The University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in November 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based at the Living Systems Institute in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

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