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Sugar-derived polymers for molecular recognition: sensing and catalysis

   Department of Chemistry

  , Dr Hannah Leese  Sunday, January 22, 2023  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a 3.5 year PhD studentship in Dr Antoine Buchard’s team in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bath (UK), on the development of sugar-derived polymers and their applications for sensing and catalysis. This project is also a collaboration with the Materials for Health lab led by Dr Hannah Leese in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Bath.

Anticipated start date: 2 October 2023.

Today, the problems associated with the intensive use of non-degradable polymers derived from fossil fuels are well known, and research in the Buchard group have been developing a new class of polymers derived from sugar feedstocks, with desirable attributes including renewability, high performance, tuneability, recyclability and degradability.

In addition to holding great promise as more sustainable plastic materials, such polymers closely resemble natural carbohydrate polymers (called polysaccharides or glycans), which are paramount in biology because of their ability to interact selectively with other molecules. They have however advantages brought by their synthetic nature (easier synthesis, yield, no batch-to-batch variations, tuneability …).

In this project, you will investigate the hypothesis that synthetic sugar-based polymers retain some of the abilities of natural glycans and can be utilised to create powerful sensors and catalysts, imbued with the exquisite ability of sugars for selective interactions. This research has the potential to deliver not only novel renewable polymer materials, but also game-changing and sustainable innovations for health and catalysis.

About us:

Research in the Buchard group addresses all aspects of the development of sustainable polymers. We develop new reactions for the synthesis of novel monomers from renewable feedstocks, design new polymerisation catalysts and processes, and produce innovative polymers for new technologies, including packaging, battery solid electrolytes and health materials.

Research in the Leese group focuses on developing advanced materials for transformative sustainable healthcare, specifically, materials that can detect and diagnose the presence of disease at point-of-care.

Project keywords: Bio-derived polymers; Sugars; Carbohydrates; Catalysis; Sensing.

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications:

Candidates are encouraged to contact Dr Antoine Buchard directly as soon as possible, and prior to submitting a formal application, on email address .

Formal applications should be submitted via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemistry prior to the application deadline of Sunday 22 January 2023.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility:

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements: UK and Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), those with Indefinite Leave to Remain and EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Exceptional Overseas students (e.g. with a UK Master’s Distinction or international equivalent and relevant research experience), who are interested in this project, should contact the lead supervisor in the first instance to discuss the possibility of applying for supplementary funding.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:

We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

Funding Notes

A studentship includes Home tuition fees, a stipend (£17,668 per annum, 2022/23 rate) and research/training expenses (£1,000 per annum) for up to 3.5 years. Eligibility criteria apply – see Funding Eligibility section above.


For recent publications from the supervisory team see below:
[1] T. M. McGuire, J. Bowles, E. Deane, E. Farrar, M. Grayson, A Buchard, “Control of Crystallinity and Stereocomplexation of Synthetic Carbohydrate Polymers from D- and L-Xylose” Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2021, 60, 4524-4528.
[2] M. Oshinowo, J. R. Runge, M. Piccini, F. Marken, A. Buchard, “Crosslinked xylose-based polyester as a bio-derived and degradable solid polymer electrolyte for Li+-ion conduction” Journal of Material Chemistry A 2022, 10, 6796-6808.
[3] C. Hardy, G. Kociok-Köhn, A. Buchard, “UV degradation of poly(lactic acid) materials through copolymerisation with a sugar-derived cyclic xanthate” Chemical Communications 2022, 58, 5463-54660.
[4] E. Daniels, Y. Mustafa, C. Herdes, H. Leese, “Optimization of Cortisol-Selective Molecularly Imprinted Polymers Enabled by Molecular Dynamics Simulations” ACS Applied Bio Materials, 2021, 4, 7243.

How good is research at University of Bath in Chemistry?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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