This project focuses on theoretical studies of polymers (long chain molecules) dissolved in a liquid. If a section of each molecule is incompatible with the solvent, the polymers may self-assemble into a range of structures in order to minimise the contact of this section with the liquid. This project will consider the self-assembly of polymers into vesicles (hollow spheres), which resemble those seen in cells and can also be used to encapsulate and deliver drugs. Novel polymers will be designed with the aim of producing batches of vesicles of uniform size, in order to allow the amount of encapsulated chemical to be precisely controlled. Next, the interaction between vesicles will be calculated, and the packing of a number of these objects will be considered. This problem is of relevance to signal transmission in nerves. Micelles (spheres of polymer molecules with no solvent core) will also be studied, to determine how they may be used to coat and hence modify the properties of a large particle or a surface. Finally, the process by which vesicles form will be investigated, since this determines how efficiently they encapsulate chemicals. Three different scenarios for vesicle formation will be considered and compared with experimental data from the host group and elsewhere. The theoretical work is based on the candidate's previous experience in calculations of polymer properties, and is linked to and sometimes directly inspired by experimental work performed in the host group. As required by the Work Programme, the proposal will increase the candidate's experience of interdisciplinary working through direct collaboration with experimental physicists and chemists, and continue his progress towards scientific independence through the performance of research largely based on his own ideas. All the research problems considered have been chosen with potential applications and relevance to industry in mind.
Call for proposal
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