Structure and Morphology of Cryoprotected Systems


Applications are invited for a PhD studentship starting in October 2013 in the Liquid and Amorphous Materials Group of Professor Phil Salmon, part of the larger Nanoscience team within the Department of Physics at the University of Bath.


Brief Description of the Project

A cryoprotectant is a material that is used to protect biological tissue from damage at low temperatures. Common substances include sugars like glucose or trehalose and alcohols like glycerol or ethylene glycol. Cryoprotectants are widely used by animals such as the arctic frog to survive deep winters, by biologists to preserve living tissue and by industry to preserve foods or (perhaps more importantly for some!) to reduce crystalline ice formation in ice cream. They work by suppressing the nucleation of crystalline ice and promoting the process of vitrification in which the material freezes into a glass. The objective of this project is to understand the role of cryoprotectants in influencing the structure and morphology of the hydrogen bonded network formed by water. The work will make extensive use of neutron and x-ray diffraction methods to study the structure of various glasses, such as those formed by sugar and water, and will use differential scanning calorimetry to investigate the thermal properties of the materials. The detailed atomic structure will be deduced with the help of various modelling methods. The research will take advantage of the facilities available within the Department and at international centres of excellence such as ISIS, the Institut Laue-Langevin and the ESRF.



Applicants should have a background in the physical sciences and have or expect to gain a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent from an overseas University. Possible funding sources include the Doctoral Training Account (for UK applicants) or, for exceptional overseas candidates, a University studentship.


Please contact Professor Phil Salmon ( for further information on the project - website

Text Box: Some contentious issues in need of a solution

The arctic wood frog’s strategy for surviving winter is to freeze solid. Its biological integrity is maintained by the production of glucose for use as a cryoprotectant.