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PhD Studentship: Bio-Inspired Complex and Adaptive Materials and Surfaces

The University of Manchester

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Manchester
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: An annual stipend of £15,009
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 5th April 2019
Closes: 28th May 2019

Project Title: Bio-Inspired complex and adaptive materials and surfaces

Supervisors: Dr A G Dumanli-Parry

Project Description

Nature produces hierarchical and complex nanostructures and patterns through the self-assembly of polymeric building blocks. Using such strategies, nature managed to showcase an array of truly magnificent iridescent structural colouration in beetles-Chrysina gloriosa, and butterflies-Morpho rhetenor and even some plants- Pollia Condensata and Margaritaria Nobilis. Furthermore, hierarchical natural composites demonstrate crucial examples of lightweight, strong, and tough materials, such as pine cones, wood, and nacre to name a few examples of the diversity of the mechanical properties that can be achieved through self-assembly and mineralization.

We have been using cellulose and chitin-based self-assembly driven structures to mimic the helicoidal order and circularly polarized structural colours that are seen in Chrysina gloriosa, Pollia Condensata, and Margaritaria Nobilis. Such self-assembled materials present optical properties that can alter in response to external stimuli and offering opportunities to be used in sensing and diagnosis.

The aim of this Ph.D. project is to develop inorganic and metallic nanoparticles with specific shapes and surface charges to manipulate evaporation driven self-assembly process in bio-inspired artificial systems to develop responsive structures with truly unusual optical and mechanical properties. Such work will require developing processing techniques and instrumentation to fabricate, control and characterise the chemical, optical and mechanical behaviour of the new structures with switchable optical (dynamic colour changing systems) and mechanical (shape memory, shape adaptive and self-healing) properties.

The Ph.D. student will work with Dr. Dumanli-Parry ( in the School of Materials. For informal inquiries please contact Dr. Ahu Gumrah Dumanli-Parry at Please include a CV in your emails.

Degree Requirements:

Applicants should have a first or 2i UK honours degree (or equivalent) in materials science/engineering, chemistry, physics or a related discipline. A Master’s level qualification is desirable.

The proposed start date for this PhD project is 1st October 2019. The duration is between 3 and 4 years.

Funding: This project is DTA funded; as such, the tuition fees are covered and you will receive an annual stipend of £15,009. If you require any extra information regarding the funding, please email

Applications – please apply at

Informal enquiries should be sent to Dr. Ahu Gumrah Dumanli-Parry at

This particular PhD project will receive top -up funding (£15k/annum) from Rolls-Royce or EDF and the tuition fees will also be covered. The duration is 3 to 4 years. The proposed start date is October 2019.

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