Plastic waste has a hugely detrimental impact on the environment and there is mounting pressure on industry to replace traditional polluting petrochemical polymers with sustainably-sourced biopolymers. However, for many applications, sustainably-sourced polymers do not yet reach the performance of oil-derived polymers. The performance of polymers can be improved by the addition of filler particles to form a composite material. The fillers are usually coated with a coupling agent, to help disperse the filler and make the polymer easier to process. While the nature of the polymer-filler interface plays an important role in the overall composite properties, the interface properties are often overlooked, due to the fact that it is challenging to characterise the interface experimentally. Molecular simulations can provide valuable insight into the interface structure and dynamics and predict how the composite performance depends on the interface properties.This project aims to use molecular dynamics simulations to understand how the interaction between filler, coupling agent and polymer influence the composite properties.
This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates may be considered for a University scholarship.
Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.
In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.
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