Studentships 2019 Entry
Industry Studentships with BCFN
We are now accepting applications for two industry focussed projects with details below. Each has it's own deadline and please make sure you read the details carefully before applying.
You will complete the first year of the BCFN PhD programme and at the extended project phase you will move on to this industry project.
You will need to meet the standard BCFN PhD programme entry requirments, be classed as a Home/EU student and attend an interview either in person at Bristol or via Skype. If you are submitting an application, please state which studentship you are interested in the studentship in your application.
**NEW - 23 May** Industry Studentship - SAAB
We are now accepting applications to an industry focussed PhD with SAAB - application deadline is Monday 17 June 2019 at 10:00.
PhD title: Self-powered, diamond-based chemical sensors for integration into composite aerospace structures
SAAB Project Summary
This collaborative project, developed between the Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials (BCFN) and SAAB AB (Sweden), aims to design and develop sensor systems for next-generation aerospace components. Such sensors will often be integrated into critical regions such as the trailing edge of the wing, or buried within the core of a jet engine and as such they must be wireless, maintenance-free, and self-powered for the lifespan of the component.
The successful PhD applicant will explore the design, functionality and performance of carbon fibre, diamond, and epoxy microelectronic devices for chemical sensing using a wireless energy supply. It will be conducted using the facilities and equipment housed in the School of Physics, the Bristol Diamond Laboratory (School of Chemistry) and the Bristol Composites Institute (ACCIS) in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
- To prototype a sensor that is able to sense leaks of fuel, cooling agent, and/or hydraulic oil
- To supply the sensor with energy from a long-life (≈20 year) battery technology and/or MEMS energy harvesting
- To assess the feasibility of integration into the trailing edge of composite wings
- Demonstrate wireless/remote sensor read-out from prototype
Micro-beam composites will initially be produced using nanodiamond, carbon fibre and diamond-coated carbon (eg. Tyranno) fibre mixed with PA6 epoxy, to assess their sensitivity to vapours. Composites employing alternative candidate polymers (e.g. epoxy- and PANI-based materials) will be evaluated by using structural architectures similar to adaptive composites existing in nature (i.e., pine cones). Prototypes based on microbeam structures will also be evaluated to establish the best sensitivity to the target non-aqueous vapours.
Wireless energy generation for sensor operation will be explored that employs both thermo-electric and beta-voltaic effects for micro/nano-Watt power generation, combined with the vapour/moisture changes of the baseline polymer of the composites. The new microbeam composite materials may also function as the substrate over which to fix piezoelectric films (PZT, PVDF). Piezo and thermo-electric effects will allow the harvesting of vibrational energy from the airframe during flight, while beta-voltaics will provide a continuous trickle charge of power that can sustain sensor operation and communications both during flight operations and on the ground.
SAAB - candidate requirements
This is a highly multidisciplinary PhD project that will include elements of diamond and other MEMS fabrication via chemical vapour deposition; polymer chemistry and physics; and aeronautical and electrical engineering. We do not anticipate receiving an application from candidates with expertise in all of these disciplines, and full training will be provided. However, the successful candidate will be able to demonstrate excellence in at least one of the disciplines described (or in a closely-related field), and will have experience in applying those skills within a multidisciplinary environment.
The project will primarily be based at the University of Bristol; however, it is anticipated that the candidate will be based within SAAB’s engineering and test facilities in Sweden for several months during the four-year research programme.
Industry Studentship - CytoSeek
We are now accepting applications to an industry focussed PhD with CytoSeek - application deadline is Monday 3 June 2019 at 10:00.
Project title: The rational design of artificial membrane binding proteins for advanced cell therapies
CytoSeek Project Summary
We have recently developed a new class of biomolecular nanohybrid structures via the reengineering of protein surfaces with polymer surfactants1-5. Significantly, the process can be performed without compromising protein structure, dynamics and function, and under aqueous conditions, the hybrid nanoconjugates exhibit high cell membrane affinities. Moreover, through rational design of the polymer surfactant corona, the cell membrane affinity can be tuned to facilitate effective insertion of the nanoconjugates into cells membranes, while retaining the native function of the protein at the cell surface. The surface-modified cells retain their ability to proliferate, undergo multi-lineage differentiation, and our recent studies have shown that myoglobin nanoconjugates can used to provide a reservoir of oxygen capable of inhibiting necrosis at the centre of hyaline cartilage during engineered tissue growth3.
The new initiative described herein will utilise and develop this new technology through the construction of novel surface-modified therapeutic cells with tissue homing properties. The major advance will come from the integration of synthetic chimeric protein-polymer surfactant nanohybrids into the membranes of the cells. Specifically, a recombinant protein chimeria comprising a supercharged protein fused to a homing sequence will be modified to display a protein-polymer surfactant corona, which will facilitate spontaneous insertion of the hybrid construct into the cell membrane. During the project, the candidate will have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of design and testing, including recombinant protein expression, nanohybrid construction, cell adhesion assays and tissue engineering.
CytoSeek - training objectives
(i)Protein Expression, Purification and Characterisation
The candidate will get to design their own synthetic gene, which will code for a His-tagged chimeria. The new construct will be expressed in E. coli and purified using Nickel-affinity column chromatography. The artificial protein will be characterised in terms of size and structure (dynamic light scattering, CD spectroscopy), and function (UV/visible and fluorescence spectroscopies).
(ii) Nanoconjugate Synthesis and Characterisation
The candidate will also investigate and optimise nanoconjugate synthesis, for example, by systematically varying the molecular mass and molecular identity of the polymer surfactant. The nanoconjugates will then be characterised using a range of microscopic (TEM, and AFM), spectroscopic, and small angle scattering (SANS and SAXS) techniques.
(iii) Cell Culture and Nanoconjugate Membrane Insertion
A range of different mammalian cells will be cultured on tissue culture plastic using well-established procedures in the new Regenerative Medicine laboratories in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. The cell membrane insertion efficiency of the nanoconjugates will be calculated using fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). The adhesion and health of the cells will be monitored using MTS and live-dead confocal microscopy assays.
CytoSeek - Post-project potential
The PhD programme has been designed to benefit from the knowledge and skills gained during the Extended Project, with the candidate now in possession of the necessary expertise to develop the project in pursuit of the following objectives:
(i) Feasibility Study through a review of the literature
- Cell homing
- Cell membrane protein immobilisation techniques.
- Recent developments in cellular therapies
(ii) Second generation of constructs with high tissue specificity
- Develop new nanoconjugates for different tissue types.
- Incorporation of the new nanoconjugates into different cell line for increased adhesion
- Frankencell adhesion to cardiac myocytes and artificial heart valves.
CytoSeek - suggested publications
- Deller, R. C.; Richardson, T.; Richardson, R.; Bevan, L.; Zampetakis, I.; Scarpa, F.; *Perriman, A. W., Artificial cell membrane binding thrombin constructs drive in situ fibrin hydrogel formation. Nature Communications 2019, 10 (1), 1887.
- Burke, M., Armstrong, J. P. K., Goodwin, A., Deller, R. C., Carter, B. M., Harniman, R. L., Ginwalla, A., Ting, V. P., Davis, S. A. & *Perriman, A. W. Regulation of Scaffold Cell Adhesion Using Artificial Membrane Binding Proteins. Macromolecular Bioscience, 2017, 17. DOI:10.1002/mabi.201600523.
- Armstrong, J. P. K., Shakur, R., Horne, J. P., Dickinson, S. C., Armstrong, C. T., Lau, K., Kadiwala, J., Lowe, R., Seddon, A., Mann, S., Anderson, J. L. R., *Perriman, A. W., Hollander, A. P., Artificial membrane binding proteins stimulate oxygenation of stem cells during engineering of large cartilage tissue. Nature Communications, 2015, 6, 7405. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8405.
- Brogan, A. P. S., Sharma, K. P., *Perriman, A. W., Mann, S., Enzyme activity in liquid lipase melts as a step towards solvent-free biology at 150 degrees C. Nature Communications, 2014, 5. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6058.
- Perriman, A. W., Brogan, A. P. S., Coelfen, H., Tsoureas, N., Owen, G. R., *Mann, S., Reversible dioxygen binding in solvent-free liquid myoglobin. Nature Chemistry, 2010, 2 (8), 622-626. DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.700.