Universal chemistries in the development of advanced polymer binders

This project involves the synthesis of novel reactive polymers and their application for surface coatings and universal binders.

Start date
1 October 2019
36 months
Application deadline
Funding source
Local company who specialise in cable harnesses for harsh environments
Funding information

Stipend (£15,009 p.a.), tuition fees (at UK/EU level), and costs for consumables and (international) travel are available for a project duration of 3 years.


The successful candidate will join the Department of Chemistry at the University of Surrey and work mainly in the Roth research group. The aim of the project is to develop a novel material that can bond to almost any surface and can therefore act as a superior glue. This interdisciplinary project contains three work packages:

(1) Synthesis of polymers and polymer nanoparticles (within the Department of Chemistry). You will be trained in state-of-the-art techniques including controlled radical polymerization, polymerization-induced self-assembly, and post-polymerization modification reactions, and will learn how to assess the materials to check for synthetic success. By exploiting latently reactive chemical groups we plan to prepare a material that can safely be handled and stored but, under the right conditions, can be activated to undergo the desired exceptional bonding.

(2) Mechanical testing (Mechanical testing facility, University of Surrey). In this step we will test how strongly our new materials can stick to a surface or can stick two surfaces together. We can also analyse the surfaces of the materials to understand their bonding (e.g. through XPS or electron microscopy).

(3) Application-based testing. Toward the end of the project, you will visit a local company who prepare cable harnesses for submarines. There, our new materials will be tested in a real-world application in the context of quite literally gluing things onto the outside of submarines.

The project is supervised by a team who can provide training in organic chemistry, polymer synthesis, mechanical testing, and testing at the industrial site. Funding is available to attend international conferences relevant to the research.

The University of Surrey is a short walk from Guildford town centre which lies within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is 40 min by train from central London.

This is supervised by:

Dr Peter Roth

Dr David Jesson

Successful candidates will be required to undergo a ‘baseline personnel security standard (BPSS)’ check and must sign a UK MOD confidentiality agreement DEFFORM 702

Eligibility criteria

This competition is open only for “home” students which includes citizens and family members of citizens of the UK, EU, EEA, and Switzerland.

Essential requirements:

First class or high second class BSc or Master’s level degree (or international equivalent) in chemistry, chemical engineering, or a closely related subject.

Language requirements:

For non-native English speakers: average score of 6.5, with each individual category at least 6.0 in an Academic IELTS test not older than 2 years .

How to apply

Applications can be made through the Chemistry PhD course page

Students are encouraged to email Peter Roth prior to applying to discuss their application.

Please state the project title and supervisor clearly on the “research proposal” part of the application.

Applicants need to include:

  • A copy of your CV 
  • Your nationality (for funding eligibility) 
  • The degree(s) you have completed with marks (please express as “x out of y”, i.e. “70 %” or “14/20”) 
  • Any degree you are in the process of completing (with a prospective mark) 
  • Highlight any previous experience or interest you have in the fields of polymer synthesis, materials, and organic chemistry.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview as part of the application to the university.

Chemistry PhD

Application deadline

Contact details

Application enquiries to:

Dr Peter Roth+44 1(483) 68 6396

Research group: 

Functional Polymer Research Group


Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.