PhD Research Studentship The Role of Degradable Polymers in Nanocomposite Medical Implants

The University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Engineering is one of the premier engineering faculties in the UK. The Faculty conducts research that has been recognised by the last Research Assessment Exercise as being world-leading or internationally excellent, placing Nottingham in the UK’s top five universities for engineering. The Faculty is a vibrant and supportive environment in which to work. It provides state-of-the art experimental and computational facilities and attracts leading scholars from around the world, many of whom are leaders in their fields.

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship (3 years) in the Research Division of Materials, Mechanics and Structures to work as part of an interdisciplinary team on the project “Integrated Molecular Design of Melt-processable Bioresorbable Engineering Nanocomposites for Health-Care” (BENcH). The BENcH project is funded by the EPSRC and is based in the Faculty of Engineering, with expertise drawn from a number of other departments. It is a collaboration brought together to design and manufacture novel polymer nanocomposite materials for healthcare. The composites will comprise unique nanoparticles, selected blends of medical grade degradable polymer and specifically tailored molecular dispersants. Optimised production methodologies will be applied at scale on industrial equipment to produce demonstrator resorbable implants with specific structural attributes and degradation timescales. BENcH is supported by a number of key industrial partners, and is expected to make a significant impact in the healthcare sector.

The focus of the studentship will be to investigate two aspects of the material properties of the degradable polymers. The first is the role played by the rheology of the polymer melt on the dispersion of the nanoparticles; the second is the role played by the processed polymer on the mechanical properties of the implant materials, over time and evolving during the degradation process. The studentship will involve training on a wide range of cutting-edge experimental techniques, but there will also be opportunities to apply modelling techniques and theory to contribute to the design of the materials. The student will work under the supervision of Dr Davide De Focatiis as part of a vibrant interdisciplinary team of four post-doctoral researchers and several other PhD students.

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Requirements of the studentship:

i)     Students should have, or expect to obtain, a first-class or good 2:1 honours degree, or a distinction or high merit at MSc level in materials engineering, mechanical engineering or a closely related discipline that includes courses in polymer science and/or engineering.

ii)    Students should be able to demonstrate an interest in polymer engineering and materials testing, and should have good written and oral presentation skills. Previous experience with polymer processing and/or testing would be beneficial.

The studentship will cover PhD tuition fees and a tax free stipend for three years (£13,590 for the 2012-13 academic year) for UK/EU students. An additional £2000 a year may be awarded for students with a 1st class degree/MSc Distinction from a UK Russell Group University or equivalent. The studentship will start no later than September 2013.

Informal enquiries prior to making an application may be addressed to: Dr Davide De Focatiis, email: If you are interested in making an application, please contact Dr Davide De Focatiis directly, via the ‘Apply’ button below, with a covering letter stating clearly how you fulfil the requirements of the studentship, and include a CV and the names and addresses of two academic referees. Interviews will take place at the University of Nottingham. Please quote ref. ENG/648.

This studenthsip will remain open until filled.

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