Epsrc Dtp Studentship Integrating Advanced Reporter Nanomaterials and Molecules to Indicate The 'health' of Biomedical Materials During Manufacture

University of Cambridge is offering PhD position in analytical chemistry. Eligible candidates should submit the applications before March 15, 2020.

With the advances in biomedical engineering, the possibility of personalised medical treatment such as customized regenerative tissue scaffolds is fast becoming a reality. This technology is enabled via distributed manufacturing processes such as 3D bioprinting. Hydrogels are the material of choice for this application due to their mechanical properties and biological compatibility. Although bioprinting of hydrogels has been proven feasible, the question remains, what happens to the underlying gel structure and mechanical performance following the high shear process of 3D printing?

It is known that mechanical shear forces can be used to transfer energy to chemical bonds and drive chemical reactions.[1,2] Force sensitive species known as mechanophores undergo controlled chemical transformation following application of a threshold force.3

This project aims to incorporate mechanophores within hydrogel formulations for tissue scaffolds to act as reporter species to indicate the health of the gel following various manufacturing processes. The proposed PhD project will investigate the scale of the forces experienced during various manufacturing processes and identify the readouts and analytical techniques feasible with these biologically active materials. The project will use world leading microscopy techniques available within the Department to link the observed chemical readouts with structural changes within the hydrogel at various length scales.

This is an interdisciplinary project combining the fields of chemistry and manufacturing engineering developing abilities in hydrogel synthesis and formulation, optical imaging and analytical chemistry. The final goal of the project is to understand the effect of mechanical forces produced during manufacturing on these biomedical materials to enable the scale-up and concurrent distributed manufacturing of tissue scaffolds.

The PhD student will work locally in the Fluids in Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory, in the Institute for Manufacturing, Department of Engineering.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree in chemistry, material science, chemical engineering or a related subject, with some understanding of materials characterisation. A basic understanding of modelling or fluid mechanics is a plus.

References: [1] Willis-Fox, N., Rognin, E., Aljohani, T.A. and Daly, R. Polymer Mechanochemistry: Manufacturing is now a force to be reckoned with. Chem, 2019, 4, 2499-2537. [2] Caruso, M.M., Davis, D.A., Shen, Q., Odom, S.A., Sottos, N.R., White, S.R., and Moore, J.S. Mechanically-Induced Chemical Changes in Polymeric Materials. Chem. Rev. 2009, 109, 5755-5798.

[3] May, P.A. and Moore, J.S. Polymer mechanochemistry: techniques to generate molecular force via elongation flows, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2013, 42, 7497-7506.

EPSRC DTP studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for UK students or provide fees only for EU students from outside the UK, subject to eligibility requirements. Further details about eligibility can be found at:

Applications should be submitted via the University of Cambridge Applicant Portal, with Dr Ronan Daly identified as the potential supervisor.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.


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