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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y022653/1
Title: Investigating liquid-like mineral phases in crowded media
Principal Investigator: Kim, Dr Y
Other Investigators:
Peckham, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 April 2024 Ends: 31 March 2027 Value (£): 586,530
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complex fluids & soft solids
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Oct 2023 EPSRC Physical Sciences Prioritisation Panel B- October 2023 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form

More sustainable and efficient crystallisation processes will undoubtedly improve the health and prosperity of our society and future generations. We use crystallisation daily to produce medicines, cultivate crops, make food, construct buildings, and create technological devices. Furthermore, understanding the crystallisation process could help prevent biological crystallisations linked with illnesses such as Alzheimer's, kidney stones, atherosclerosis, and so on.

In the traditional description of crystallisation in solution, a tiny crystal first forms and then gets larger by stacking up individual ions or molecules. However, an emerging new concept suggests that a crystal may go through a liquid-like phase before it becomes the final solid crystal. When we can control the liquid-like phase, we can alter its properties before it fully solidifies and becomes unchangeable. This offers an entirely new way to synthesise materials. The final product could then have well-defined shapes and sizes as well as outstanding mechanical and catalytic qualities.

This new investigator award project will exploit the liquid-like phase of minerals. The challenge with this is that this liquid-like state exists only in minute quantities and for very short times. This project adopts a biologically originated process called macromolecular crowding (MC), which is critical in orchestrating many complicated biological events. This approach will enable us to manage the liquid-like phases of minerals to be much more stable and abundant, thus allowing us to carry out a full quantitative examination of the liquid-like mineral so that we can eventually utilise the useful phase. With this initiative, I will be able to explain the role of the liquid state in the crystallisation process and ultimately apply this knowledge to make new materials. Because the process is chemically non-specific, scalable, and sustainable, it can be used more universally as a tool to control the synthesis of a wider range of functional materials used for catalysts, biomedical imaging, and electronic and optical devices.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk