Contact us:

Postgraduate and Postdoctoral Applications

General applications for postgraduate studentships and postdoctoral positions are welcome throughout the year. There are various strands of research that are currently available.

Get in touch

Professor Stephen Mann FRS,
School of Chemistry
University of Bristol

Tel: 0044 (0)117-9289935

Protocell Models and the Origin of Life

Can there be life outside biology? Since 2011 we have been investigating novel approaches to the design and construction of synthetic representations of biological cellularity. This work involves two key strands: (a) inorganic cells with artificial cytoskeletal interiors and controlled enzymatic activity, and (ii) membrane-free protocell models based on peptide/nucleotide coacervate droplets.

Solvent-free Liquid Proteins

Can proteins function without water? Since 2010 we have been studying the synthesis of biomolecular liquids that consist of solvent-free myoglobin molecules that retain their oxygen binding activity. These novel fluids are thermally stable and undergo reversible unfoldoing and re-folding at high temperature.

Self-assembled Inorganic Materials

Can inorganic materials be constructed by self-assembly processes? We are exploring new synthetic approaches in which inorganic and organic constituents are interconnected by specific molecular and supramolecular interactions.

Nano- and Mesostructured Materials

Inorganic materials with architectures and porosity at the nanoscale (< 2 nm) and mesoscale (2-10 nm) have important applications in catalysis and separation technology. We are currently investigating new chemical routes to organized hierarchical structures, including the newly discovered mesoporous silica materials, MCM-41 and zeolite mimics.

Biominerals and Biomimetics

We are studying the molecular and structural aspects of biomineralization. Typical examples are bones, shells, teeth, and a wide range of single-celled organisms, such as marine algae, that produce elaborate mineralized skeletons on the microscale. Our goal is to mimic these biological minerals in synthetic materials by adapting ideas and concepts from the biosystems. For example, we are discovering new ways to synthesize microskeletons in the beaker!

Magnetic Proteins

The iron storage protein, ferritin, is being studied as a nanometre size micelle for controlled chemical reactions leading to inorganic-organic nanocomposites. A particular goal is to produce magnetic proteins that might be useful in magnetic resonance imaging, by synthesizing iron oxide nanocrystals within the enclosed protein membrane of ferritin.

Template-directed Materials Synthesis

A major concept in biomineralization is that organized organic templates control the formation of the inorganic structures of bones, shells and teeth etc. We are applying this idea to materials chemistry and using a range of supramolecular organic templates containing appropriate surface functionalities, to regulate the nucleation and growth of inorganic magnets, semiconductors, and catalysts.

Studies in the above research areas offer training in biomineralization, materials chemistry, electron microscopy, electron diffraction, spectroscopy, Langmuir monolayer, surfactant and colloidal chemistry, and atomic force microscopy.