EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials: Multifunctional Luminescent Monolayered Quantum Dots for Cancer Theranostics

University of Exeter - Departments of Physics and Astronomy, and Department of Engineering

The studentship is part of the EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2), www.exeter.ac.uk/metamaterials. Our aim is to undertake world-leading research, while training scientists and engineers with the relevant research skills and knowledge, and professional attributes for industry and academia.

Joint supervisors: Prof. Shaowei Zhang, Dr. Chris Scotton

Cancer accounts for millions of deaths annually worldwide. Numerous therapies including photodynamic therapy (PDT), chemotherapy and radiation therapy have been industrialized for cancer diagnosis and treatment. By generating toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS), PDT is an effective modality for treating tumours, particularly superficial tumours. However, the lower yield of ROS from current photosensitizing drugs limits its efficacy in the clinic.

To overcome this, we have recently developed a novel and efficient theranostic PDT platform for cancer diagnosis and therapy applications, based on graphene quantum dots (QDs) prepared using a novel technique developed by Prof Zhang’s group (ACS-Nano, 2013, 7, 8214-8223; Small, 2014, 10, 60-65), and showing some very promising results (patent application in progress and paper being drafted for Nature Nanotechnology). The excellent performance of GQDs in this case, is attributed to their enhanced photoluminescent properties, unique structure/size, water solubility, and good photo- and pH-stability.

Following this pioneering work and building upon the preliminary results obtained so far, in this project, fabrication and photo-physical characterizations of other novel QD (such as WS2 and BN QDs)-based platforms for cancer theranostics will be carried out in detail. The effects of processing parameters on the structure and properties of various types of QDs will be further investigated. The interplay between their luminescence, singlet oxygen generation, cell labelling and bio-imaging will be examined systematically, and their potential applications in photodynamic therapy (alone and in combination with chemotherapy) for lung cancer explored in model systems.

4-year studentship: for UK/EU students, the studentship includes tuition fees and an annual stipend equivalent to current Research Council rates; for international students (non-EU) a very small number of fees only studentships may be available

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South West England