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The study of bio-molecular interactions for the development of novel biological adhesives


Project Description

Applications are invited from ambitious, self-motivated and enthusiastic candidates, with a background in biochemistry, protein chemistry or bio-interactions to work on a fully funded PhD studentship. Funding and stipend are provided jointly from the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology at the University of the West of England, Bristol and GKN Aerospace. The PhD will focus on novel approaches to adhesive bonding through the development of bio-adhesives for multiple applications such as medical devices and future aerospace applications. The PhD researcher will be primarily based at the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology, but will be expected to directly engage with industrial colleagues at GKN Aerospace on a regular basis.

Background
Biologically derived or inspired adhesives have the potential to provide novel solutions to contemporary engineering structural bonding challenges, as well as in medical applications, such as tissue reconstruction. For structural bonding, current generation adhesives generally require good surface cleaning and preparation to achieve an acceptable quality bond and typically require applied temperature, pressure or other stimulus to achieve cure. These processes are time consuming and often require expensive capital equipment. High adhesion strength, reliability, reversible attachment, attachment to any surface, including those in harsh environments are all advantages that could be realised with biological derived bonding. Adhesives found in nature frequently achieve good bond strengths in warm, wet and dirty environmental conditions. The use of biological adhesives is likely to be less harmful to the environment, use fewer chemicals and reduce safety concerns associated with chemical toxicity and solvent flammability.
The types of active molecules found in biological adhesives are diverse; however, there are relatively few that employ two components. Two component adhesives are advantageous as they typically have a longer life and allow better control of the bonding and curing process. One example is the reaction between fibrinogen and thrombin which naturally produce fibrin clots in the body. A two component fibrin adhesive has been proposed for applications in surgery to create fibrin strands around wounds.

This PhD programme will focus on the development of novel two part adhesives based on the strong binding energies between biological molecules such as biotin and streptavidin. Factors affecting the properties of the bio-adhesive will be investigated in terms of the bio-components, stability, and binding strength. To achieve future exploitation these adhesives will need to demonstrate potential to meet aerospace requirements. The aim of the PhD is to deliver not only high quality research outputs, but also to demonstrate research impact by proposing a technology development and exploitation roadmap for GKN Aerospace.

Funding Notes

The Studentship is funded for 3 years and includes tuition fees and a competitive tax-free stipend set at the UKRI rate.

This award is available to highly motivated and innovative students. Candidates should have (or expect to have) a first-class or 2.1 honours degree or a masters qualification in chemistry, biochemistry or related subject.

How good is research at University of the West of England, Bristol in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 45.40

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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