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Unconventional Polymer Network Architectures for Novel Multiresponsive Hydrogels

   Department of Chemistry

About the Project

A fully-funded four-year PhD studentship is available to work with Dr Maciek Kopeć on the design of novel polymer network/hydrogel architectures. The project is funded by the University of Bath and includes a requirement to undertake teaching during term time (22 weeks per year) such as weekly undergraduate laboratory demonstration and tutorial classes.

Start date: 2 October 2023.

Overview of the Research:

The vast majority of polymer networks, including hydrogels, are one-component materials, i.e., consist of one type of polymer. This is due to the nature of the crosslinking process, which produces randomly crosslinked insoluble gels, difficult for further modification. Consequently, the range of properties accessible in conventional networks/hydrogels is limited by the choice of the polymer. Thus, in order to synthesise functional hydrogels with tuneable properties as well as the ability to independently respond to multiple stimuli such as temperature or pH, novel, unconventional network architectures need to be developed. 

Within this project model multicomponent hydrogels will be prepared, and the influence of the network architecture on their properties such as swelling, modulus, pH and/or thermo-responsiveness will be studied. The ability to precisely tune the hydrogel internal structure will  allow better control over their mesh size, phase transitions and transport properties, resulting in new materials with potential applications in controlled drug delivery, ‘smart’ wound dressings, or soft robotics.

The studentship is associated with a broader research programme aimed at development of multicomponent, responsive hydrogel materials. You will be working closely with other researchers and students involved in the project. We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated researcher with passion for polymer chemistry to join our team. 

Project keywords: polymer chemistry; polymer networks; hydrogels; materials science.

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent) in chemistry with some previous experience of synthetic polymer chemistry and/or hydrogels. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

The applicant must be willing and able to demonstrate in the undergraduate laboratory and deliver chemistry tutorials with appropriate support and training.

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

Enquiries and Applications:

Informal enquiries about the project are encouraged and should be directed to Dr Maciek Kopeć on email address .

If you have questions regarding the teaching requirement, please contact Prof Petra Cameron on email address .

Formal applications should be submitted via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemistry.

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

Note: Applications may close earlier than the advertised deadline if a suitable candidate is found. We therefore recommend that you contact Dr Kopeć prior to applying and submit your formal application as early as possible.

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.

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

The successful candidate will receive a 4-year University of Bath Postgraduate Research Scholarship which will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and will provide a doctoral stipend at the UKRI rate (£17,668 per annum, 2022/23 rate) as well as a Training Support allowance of £1,000 per annum. The scholarship includes a requirement to undertake teaching during term-time (22 weeks per annum).


For recent examples of our work in this area, see:
(1) Elliss, H.; Dawson, F.; Nisa, Q. un; Bingham, N. M.; Roth, P. J.; Kopeć, M. Fully Degradable Polyacrylate Networks from Conventional Radical Polymerization Enabled by Thionolactone Addition. Macromolecules 2022, 55 (15), 6695–6702. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.macromol.2c01140

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