This project is in collaboration with Huntsman Polyurethanes based in Everberg Belgium. Polyurethanes are used in many technological applications ranging from adhesives for a variety of products to foams for furniture and sandwich panels. This project concerns the use of a polyurethane adhesive used in the manufacture of a range of packagings for foodstuffs. The substrates to be bonded are a range of very thin polymer films, some of which are metallised.
The investigation will seek to study a number of aspects related to the adhesion and performance of such polyurethane/polymer film bonds. In particular a study of the fundamentals of adhesion between polyurethanes and isocyanates (one of the pre-cursors used in polyurethane production) and polymer films and inks used for printing on such films. The manner in which the cure process may enhance or disrupt such adhesion is crucial to performance, as all systems undergo multiple cure stages during laminate manufacture. Other aspects that will be investigated will be the barrier properties of the laminate, particularly the glue line as a result of process parameters, and the fidelity of adhesion achieved on exposure to different environments (temperature humidity and liquids encountered in food packaging).
The main analytical techniques to be used in this work are the surface analysis methods of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and (XPS) and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS). The Surface Analysis Laboratory at the University of Surrey is superbly equipped for work of this sort and has specialised in the application of XPS and ToF-SIMS to adhesion investigations for more than 40 years. Our collaborations with Huntsman PU date back more than a decade.
The project will involve visits to Huntsman PU’s laboratories and there is an expectation that the successful candidate will present their work at international conferences relevant to adhesion and surface analysis research.
Entry requirements: This project requires a First, Upper Second, or merit at Masters in a physical sciences subject. You will preferably be a chemist or chemical engineer with interests in organic polymers, adhesion, surface analysis, environmental condition impacts on polymers. You should be highly motivated, curious and proactive, and an enthusiastic reader of scientific literature. If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 6.5 with at least 6 in all the components.
How to apply: Please contact the Centre in the first instance to lodge an expression of interest in the project, Noelle Hartley [email protected]
All tuition fees will be covered for the duration of the project and a stipend of £17,000 per annum.