Dynamics, Rheology and Printability of Bioactive Hairy Colloids

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Professor Justin Cooper-Whitej.cooperwhite@uq.edu.au

Colloidal gels can be formed from a range of both polymeric and inorganic nanoparticles. Many engineered products rely on colloidal gels and suspensions for their unique behaviours (e.g. printing inks, paints, coatings, foods, etc.). In designing desired properties into these suspensions, formulators tailor the interactions between nanoparticles to elicit control over solution microstructure and the resultant rheological properties, such as yield stress, viscoelasticity or normal stress differences. Systematic design of the colloidal 'interactome' (as used in other more established industries) to introduce predictive structure-property-function mapping into polymeric precursors for use in Bioprinting is yet to be exploited.

This project will be focussed on determining the impact of chemical composition and structure on the rheological and mechanical properties of multi-arm star polymer, or hairy colloid (HC), based suspensions. Probing colloidal interactions combinatorially to decipher their relative impact on suspension through to glassy behaviours in hairy soft colloids is a significant challenge. Comprehensive characterisation of the role of arm composition, arm length, arm number and arm type ratio of hairy ‘mikto-arm’ colloids on the resultant modes of arm relaxation, colloidal microstructures and rheological behaviours under shear is non-existent. Using a novel high throughput (HTP) synthesis and characterisation pipeline recently developed in our laboratory opens a completely new avenue for probing colloidal dynamics and structure, for defining ‘design’ guidelines for a desired rheological footprint, and for identifying new formulation optima that will produce colloidal gels and glasses that offer completely unique mechanical properties, unique phases and unique processing behaviours.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of polymer synthesis and characterisation, biomaterials, computational modelling, particularly finite element modelling, and imaging would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering, or a related discipline and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of rheology, colloidal interaction forces and thermodynamics is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

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