This PhD project aims to map and quantify nanoparticle formation pathways for the bioinspired “green” synthesis using a range of analytical approaches. You will join the Green Nanomaterials Research Group (www.svplab.com) within the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield.
Background: Nanomaterial industry is worth a multi-billion pounds but current nanomaterials production methods are wasteful and unsustainable. Consequently, there is an urgent need to develop green production methods for nanomaterials which can allow greater control over materials properties, yet require less energy, produce less waste (i.e. eco-friendly) and are cost-effective. We have developed bioinspired syntheses of complex nanomaterials such that they offer substantial reductions in time and energy usage, superior control over nanomaterials properties and reduced manufacturing carbon footprint, thus providing a significant cost benefit and competitive advantage. However, due to a lack of understanding of the speciation during the synthesis and the particle formation pathways, we are unable to commercialise this route.
Objectives and Methodology: In order to understand the speciation and particle formation pathways, this project will focus on silica, titania and zinc oxide as the technologically important nanomaterials, which are the top three most produced nanomaterials with diverse applications. You will use colorimetric and microwave spectroscopy to probe speciation, measure chemical kinetics and calculate activation energies for various steps. These data will help build kinetic models and provide mechanistic understanding and predictability. Towards the end of the project, you will explore the ways to develop in-line techniques to monitor particle formation in-situ.
Research Environment: This PhD project is part of a larger EPSRC Fellowship, which includes post-doctoral researchers, another PhD student, a technician and several academic and industry collaborators that you will have the opportunity to collaborate with.
This project is inherently multidisciplinary and you will receive training in many relevant techniques and transferable skills. You will contribute to lab meetings, outreach activities and the vibrant PhD communities across the University. The host department has a thriving environment within one of the UK’s top Faculties of Engineering with a vibrant research culture. The Green Nanomaterials Research Group is internationally leading in the design and green manufacturing of functional nanomaterials. The primary supervisor has received four Dedicated Outstanding Mentor and SuperVisionary awards, recognising good all-round supervision and mentoring. You will participate in training on Professional Skills for Research Leaders, which includes areas such as management, science communication, supervision and scientific writing. There is a potential for visits to/placements with the academic and industry partners.
Candidate Specifications: The successful candidate will have a first class degree in chemistry or chemical engineering with practical experience of research. Experience in solution chemistry of nanomaterials (synthesis and/or analysis) is desirable. A strong background in mathematical analysis of results (e.g. reaction modelling) is also desirable. Specific knowledge of bioinspired synthesis, colorimetric assays or microwave spectroscopy, although not required, will be beneficial.
If English is not your first language then you must have International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) certificate with an average of 6.5 or above and at least 6.0 in each component.
Funding: This position covers the UK/EU fees and stipend. Candidates from outside the EU should include, in their application, their plans to cover the difference in fees.