Blade spray mass spectrometry for characterisation and quantification of mutagenic impurities in pharmaceutical reaction mixtures

Rapid detection and quantification of potentially harmful impurities in reaction mixtures can save money, protect lives and increase the speed at which pharmaceuticals are developed. Working with AstraZeneca, this PhD will develop new mass spectrometry technology to analyse complex mixtures for low-level impurities.

Start date

1 October 2022


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Astra Zeneca and University of Surrey

Funding information

Full stipend at the UKRI standard rate (£15,609 for 2021/22) with UK fees and basic training support grant.


Blade spray mass spectrometry is a new and exciting development to characterise molecules rapidly, and accurately, at very low (sub parts per billion) levels in complex matrices. Working with AstraZeneca and the Community for Analytical Measurement Science this project will push the limits of detection of analytical science to produce targeted and untargeted processes to detect mutagenic impurities in reaction mixtures and other realistic scenarios. 

This project will work with mass spectrometry manufacturers and the blade spray developers to maximise the efficiency of the process which would be equally applicable to scenarios in environmental safety and forensic analysis. We will use a range of mass spectrometers to determine the optimum configuration and develop purpose-designed interfaces to maximise throughput, ease of use, and anti-contamination. Understanding the processes of pre-concentration, sample clean-up and ionisation will be key to developing highly sensitive analytical tools which could have significant impact in the development of next-generation pharmaceutical products.

Eligibility criteria

For UK candidates, only UK fees are covered. To be eligible you must hold a 2:1 or higher in BSc or equivalent Masters level qualification. 

If English is not your first language, you will be required to have an IELTS Academic score of 7.0 or above (or equivalent), with no sub-test score below 6.5.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Chemistry PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab. Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application

Chemistry PhD

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Application deadline

Contact details

Patrick Sears
11 AZ 01
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689580



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