PhD Studentship: Postgraduate Project in The Development of Sustainable Nano-Composite Materials

University of Kent - Chemistry

A PhD position is available in the field of materials science, open to both organic and physical chemists depending on the student profile.

Increasing environmental awareness and growing shortage of fossil resources are prompting scientists and industry to develop bio-sourced materials that have the potential to replace toxic or non-biodegradable materials while offering similar or enhanced properties. Among the available biopolymers, cellulose is both the most abundant and sustainable while possessing outstanding physical properties such as high mechanical resistance and low density. Particularly, cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) make attractive building blocks for the design of green nano-composites, particularly thin functional films replacing current petrochemical-resourced polymers in lubrication, 3D printing and sensor applications.

The aim of the project is to explore the chemistry-structure-function relationship of various synthesised forms of CNCs, an exciting new area of research with significant potential industrial application. The student will receive training in a broad spectrum of techniques ranging from AFM, rheology, surface deposition (spin and dip coating), QCM, NMR and spectroscopic techniques available in SPS, alongside working with collaborators at large-scale neutron and X-ray scattering facilities in Oxfordshire and France.

Given project scope, it is open to either: (a) An interested synthetic, organic chemist, interested in synthesising new functionalised CNCs, where support for the physical characterisation will come from other members of the group and collaborators in Malmö, Sweden. (b) An analytical/physical chemist, interested in exploring the lubrication properties and applications of CNCs, with synthetic support coming from within the group and collaborators at CERMAV in Grenoble, France.

The successful candidate will be based at the University of Kent's main campus in Canterbury as part of the Barker Group, with the potential (based on the candidate’s interest) for spending time the labs of collaborators in both Grenoble, France and Malmö, Sweden.

This PhD project is due to start in September, 2018.

Entry requirements: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in either Chemistry or a related subject. This project is available to both UK and EU nationals, and will involve undertaking teaching/demonstrating duties during the period of study.


Contact: For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Dr. Rob Barker at

How to Apply: To apply please go to

You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references).

Deadline Date for Applications: 6 February 2018

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