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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V053396/1
Title: Nanostructured Self-Assembly of Bio-Derived and Bio-Inspired Lipid-Based Amphiphiles
Principal Investigator: Hamley, Professor IW
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Reading
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 April 2022 Ends: 31 March 2026 Value (£): 1,370,271
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Chemical Synthetic Methodology Complex fluids & soft solids
Synthetic biology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Dec 2021 EPSRC Physical Science Fellowship Interviews December 2021 Announced
19 Oct 2021 EPSRC Physical Sciences October 2021 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Nanomaterials are materials with features with a size of a few nanometres, thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. They are of huge interest as innovative advanced materials with applications in filtration since they can capture very small particles such as bacteria and viruses. In addition, the activity of catalysts is greatly increased for very small particles, as for example in engine catalytic convertors. Silicon chips used in the latest generation of laptops, computers and smart-phones rely on increasing the number of transistors on the chips, which is done by decreasing the size of the transistor features. In addition, nanoparticles (ultra-small particles with a diameter of a few nanometres) have unique functions and can be used to deliver drugs and other therapeutic molecules because of their small size which enables them to permeate towards therapeutic targets in the body and to penetrate cells to deliver therapeutic compounds.

In our ambitious research project, we will synthesize innovative classes of nanostructured lipid conjugates (NLCs) containing bio-derived and biocompatible lipids, peptides and sugars linked together into multi-functional molecules. Combining these natural molecules by linking different components will lead to new structures and functions. We will investigate the formation of nanoscale ordered structures in these materials in the melt as a function of temperature using x-rays and advanced microscopes. Many of these NLCs have not been studied before and will have unique and unexpected properties and functions. A particular focus will be on those NLCs which produce the smallest feature sizes which will be used to create new nanoporous membranes for filtration applications and nanopatterned surfaces with novel properties as coatings and for catalysis. Films will be made from unusual types of lipids that form the cell membrane of extremophile organisms which can withstand extreme environmental conditions of pH and temperature (being found for example near deep-sea vents). We will use micelles and vesicles which are ultra-small structures formed by surfactants and lipids in water and which are already on the market, being used in cosmetics and medicine. The detergency properties, biodegradability and eco-friendly nature of the biosurfactant NLCs will be analysed. Finally, these structures will be used to encapsulate and deliver model compounds and anticancer drugs, exploiting the peptide and sugar coating on the nanoparticles to achieve selective targeting to cancer cells, using tumour-specific chemical triggers. This is a cutting edge project that will deliver transformative discoveries using materials that will be designed taking inspiration from nature and using nature's palette of biomolecular functions, which have been evolved for optimal performance under specific conditions. This project addresses important unmet needs for new types of eco-friendly biosurfactants and advanced functional nanomaterials based on rational control of biomolecular self-assembly. An Established Career Fellowship will provide the flexibility to develop these exciting NLC systems based on a clear vision to exploit biomolecular self-assembly to create innovative materials that address major environmental and healthcare challenges.
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Organisation Website: http://www.rdg.ac.uk