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3D-printable biopolymer

PhD in Developing 3D-printable biopolymer-based composite materials with tailored structure and properties

 Project Overview

Natural biopolymers such as polysaccharides (e.g chitin/chitosan, cellulose, starch, and alginate) and proteins are widely available, biodegradable, biocompatible, chemically versatile, and inherently functional, and thus can strongly complement traditional synthetic polymers for materials development with sustainability consideration. To unleash their potential and for meeting certain application needs, these biopolymers usually need to be chemically modified, hybridised with each other, and developed into (nano)composites by blending with environmentally friendly additives. It is also highly important to develop cost-effective processes to manufacture biopolymer-based materials and composites.

This exciting PhD project aims to develop a series of biopolymer-based composite materials with tailored structures, properties and functionality, and advanced engineering processes especially based on 3D printing for producing such materials. Aspects of the research work include, but not limited to: the chemical modification and plasticisation/dissolution of biopolymers, the chemical modification/synthesis of nanoparticles (e.g. graphene, nanoclays, polysaccharide nanocrystals) and plasticisers/solvents, the rheological and printability evaluation of biopolymer formulations, the establishment of extrusion, 3D-printing and other processes for materials production, the characterisation of starting materials, and intermediate products and final composites. It is expected that the developed biopolymer-based materials and composites would demonstrate application-potential (e.g. in the biomedical field) with suitable properties/functionality. It is also anticipated that this project will generate significant amounts of new knowledge in the area of biopolymer science and engineering.

Desired Student Background

A minimum 2.1 undergraduate (BEng, MEng, BSc, MSci) and/or postgraduate masters’ qualification (MSc) in S&T areas: polymers, materials, engineering, chemistry and physics. Experience of polymer processing and characterisation would be advantageous.

Funding and Eligibility

Standard PhD at UKRI rates: £15,285

The PhD is available to UK/EU applicants.

To apply

To apply please complete our online enquiry form and upload your CV.

Please ensure you meet the minimum requirements before filling in the online form.

Key Information:

Stipend: Standard PhD at UKRI rates: £15,285

Supervisors: The PhD student will be principally advised by the EPSRC Fellow Dr David Fengwei Xie.

Open to UK/EU applicants

Start date: June 2021