Scheme: Industry Fellowship
Organisation: University of St Andrews
Dates: Jan 2011-Dec 2014
Summary: Nanoporous solids such as metal organic frameworks and zeolites are solids that have pores, channels and cavities (‘holes’) that are of similar size to small molecules, from about 1 nm (0.000000001 m) to 100 nm (0.0000001 m) in diameter. One consequence of this is that they have extremely high surface areas – normal solids only have external surface, while nano porous frameworks have external and internal surface. The internal surface area can be extremely large, with 1 g of some of the most porous materials having a surface area about the same as a football field! This means that these porous solids can be used as molecular sieves, where different chemicals can be separated based on how strongly they interact with the surface. This is particularly important for the separation of valuable components in fuels from less valuable ones. As part of this industry fellowship I am looking at how new technology such as MOFs can be utilised in an industrial setting, and looking at how these materials can be developed and characterised using new methods.
However, as well as separations the very highly porous nature of metal organic frameworks means that they are ideal for delivering large payloads of active molecules. We have also been studying this aspect of frameworks by using them to deliver antibacterial agents, and these have turned out to be especially good for killing biofilms.
Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Dates: Jun 2009-Dec 2010
Summary: The research in my fellowship is a mixture of fundamental research into the synthesis of new porous solids and application driven research, with a particular goal of developing these fascinating materials for use in biology and medicine as therapeutic delivery solids. With this in mind we have over the last year or so developed a new class of bifunctional anti-bacterial solid that combines features of currently used antimicrobial materials with some of the natural defences that body uses to fight bacteria and other organisms. The work was extremely successful and shows that the solid has improved effectiveness against important bacteria such as MRSA and clostridium Difficile. We are currently planning the first experiments using this kind of solid to be completed on human subjects. These experiments will be completed in the autumn. This work has great potential impact and forms part of our strong commercialisation portfolio.
During the last year we have also continued to develop our synthesis work with the particular goal of taking advantage of the chemistry of the solids we target to produce completely novel effects that can be utilised in future applications. While this is still much more at the fundamental research stage we have published several high profile papers in this area and we will look to further develop the area in the remainder of the fellowship.
Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Dates: Oct 1998-Sep 2006
Summary: This project summary is not available for publication.