Leeds Centre for Crystallization

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PhD positions

Green approaches to nanostructured materials

Fiona Meldrum (School of Chemistry)

The goal of this project is to produce synthetic crystals with structures and properties which rival those of biominerals such as bones, teeth and seashells. Through the process of evolution, biominerals have evolved to show an amazing range of structures and properties which provide a unique inspiration for the design and synthesis of new materials. Biominerals are characterised by many unique features including complex morphologies and organisation over length scales from the nano to the macro. Further, they often show remarkable properties tailored to their functions including mechanical properties to rival engineering materials such as concrete.  Importantly, all of this is achieved under mild reaction conditions.

The ultimate goal of this project is to learn from nature, and specifically the structures of biominerals and the mechanisms by which they form, to develop green synthetic routes for the production of nanomaterials with specific physical properties (e.g. mechanical, optical and magnetic). A key feature of such “bio-inspired” approaches is that soft organic molecules and aggregates direct the growth of hard inorganic phases.  Only by understanding the interactions between the participating organic and inorganic reaction components can we hope to (1) generalize and extrapolate the principles to related systems, (2) tailor-make structures for specific applications and (3) scale-up the methodologies developed to production levels.

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