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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P007864/1
Title: Molecular Migration in Complex Matrices: Towards Predictive Design of Structured Products
Principal Investigator: Wilson, Professor MR
Other Investigators:
McLeish, Professor T Thompson, Dr RL Chakrabarti, Dr B
Zhang, Professor ZJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AKZO Nobel Mondelez UK R and D Ltd Procter & Gamble
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: Durham, University of
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 30 June 2017 Ends: 29 June 2022 Value (£): 1,034,684
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complex fluids & soft solids Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Chemicals
Food and Drink
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
21 Jul 2016 EPSRC Physical Sciences Physics - July 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Many industrial formulations that form part of our daily lives are complex mixtures. These include food, hygiene and laundry products, paints, etc. In many of these systems small molecules migrating to and across interfaces (that are either exposed to atmosphere or buried in bulk) leads to undesired effects. These might include adhesive loss in hygiene products, poor flavour perception, and release of undesired chemicals to the atmosphere.

This project is aimed at developing a software toolkit for understanding small molecule migration in complex fluid mixtures that have many ingredients.

Our ambition is to go far beyond the very simple model systems for which molecular migration has previously been characterised, and to address the complexities that arise when migration occurs in products that have structure, or are evolving with time. This brings fascinating but subtle challenges which are not only stimulating fundamental problems, but underpin 'real world' issues such as shelf-life of detergent formulations, durability of coatings and even how our food tastes when we chew it.

We have developed this proposal in close collaboration with 3 industrial partners (P&G, AkzoNobel and Mondelez) who represent three very different sectors of the consumer goods industry, yet have in common the need to control migration in structured products. Despite working on entirely different product ranges, scientists in these companies share a remarkable range of problems that can be addressed by answering 3 key questions:

Q1. How does the depth profile of wetting layers and subsurface concentrations depend on bulk phase composition and molecular interactions?

Q2. What is the surface structure resulting from lateral migration?

Q3. What are the timescales and mechanisms associated with migration and formation of surface structures?

We will tackle these questions for a variety of carefully defined model formulations to isolate influences of polarity, charge, hydrophobicity, elasticity and deformation, in a series of fundamental studies. The project will deliver fundamental science knowledge along with a predictive model toolkit, ready to be embedded in the research programmes of soft matter scientists and technologists.

We will work with our industrial partners throughout the project to ensure successful implementation of these models to allow them to exploit this work in their R&D programmes, and make the deliverables available to wider downstream users through a supported software website and the National Formulation Centre.

Solving these problems will pave the way to efficient formulations that offer reduced waste improved performance and stability in consumer goods.

Key Findings
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