Collagen is a structural protein that forms microscopically small fibrils in all vertebrates. These fibrils constitute the main component of many tissues, ranging from skin and bone to eyes. They are essential to maintain the mechanical strength and shape of these tissues. Because collagen fibrils are inherently biocompatible and can easily be processed, collagen fibril-based synthetic materials have been identified as potential scaffold materials in tissue-engineering. Such scaffolds are to be implanted in the living organism. They are necessary to grow new tissue and organs and are vital in the treatment of burn victims.
To function properly, it is important that the mechanical properties of scaffold materials are finely tuned and maintained to match those of natural tissues. This is normally performed by various techniques such as incubation with cross-linking agents, oxidisers, or controlled exposure to ultraviolet light. However, not enough is known about how these treatments influence the mechanical properties of collagen fibrils under various natural conditions.
In this project, we will use Atomic Force Microscopy to investigate the mechanical properties of collagen fibrils on the nanometer scale. We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a first degree in Physics, Materials Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, or related fields.
You must have the willingness to work experimentally. Lab experience, for example gained in an experimental final-year project in your undergraduate degree is a great plus.
Please indicate your desired supervisor and quote research group Biological Physics and Soft Matter in your application and all correspondence.
The selection process will involve a pre-selection on documents, if selected this will be followed by an invitation to an interview. If successful at the interview, an offer will be provided in due time.
Funding is available for 3.5 years and covers tuition fees at the level set for UK/EU students, c. £5,300 p.a. and a tax-free stipend of approximately £17,000 p.a. with possible inflationary increases after the first year.