Master of Science Degree (MSc)

Development of Absorbent Coatings for Extraction of Volatile Organic Chemicals

Industrial Sponsor: Markes International
Closing Date: Subject to number of applications

Key Information

Academic Supervisors: Primary: Dr Chris Phillips. Secondary: Dr Zari Tehrani.

Industry Supervisor: Jon Williams

Expected Interview Date: Summer 2022

Background and Project Aims:

This project is a collaboration between Markes International (Bridgend, UK) and The Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating research group in Swansea University. Established in 1997, Markes International is a global manufacturer and supplier of specialist analytical instrumentation, accessories, supplies, and consumables that enhances the sensitivity and scope of gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GCMS). There are a vast number of applications for this technology including environmental monitoring, investigating chemical emissions from consumer products, and the automotive sector, forensic analysis, detection of chemical warfare agents, and even disease diagnosis.

The focus of this work will be the development of new materials and methods for in-situ extraction, and trapping of low levels of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds from various media which are then processed through GCMS. Markes are particularly interested in developing phases for sorptive extraction. This can be immersive or headspace sampling and make use of phase chemistries for example, that have both hydrophilic and lipophilic properties to extract wide ranging polarities of molecules.

The crucial aspect of this research is the shape of the absorbers (Form factors) to ensure that they are compact and compatible with automated chemical sampling methods. Development and manufacture also relies on reproducibility and repeatability of the developed products together with precise and accurate measurements across replicates. These absorbers will be comprised of polymeric binder and sorbent powder which are blended into a coating. Absorption performance depends on:

  • Sorbent characteristics of powders, polymers and combinations
  • Homogeneity of blended or mixed materials
  • The use of mesh support for robustness
  • Thermal stability of materials for use in thermal desorption
  • Uniformity of coating thickness

This project will therefore seek to investigate these attributes so that systems can give world-leading sensitivities and performance across a diverse range of analytes.

This project is a partnership, with sorbent preparation steps (mixing, deposition) carried out in Swansea University and sorbent testing and verification performed at the nearby Markes International facility.

COATED M2A recognises applicants have a variety of backgrounds with different educational and research experiences. We do not expect applicants to be proficient users of any techniques /equipment mentioned, at the time of application. Our focus is to upskill our participants and training will be provided.

COATED M2A in the Faculty of Science and Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry, providing access to world class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. COATED M2A is committed to providing top quality research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners.

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committed to addressing unequal gender representation. Applications from women and other under-represented groups are particularly welcomed. All applications will be anonymised prior to short listing.

Are you considering making an application and have questions you’d like answered? Come and have a 1-2-1 chat with us at our applicant surgeries. We encourage all applicants to review our hints and tips document found here.

Sponsoring Company: Markes International.


Candidates must normally hold a minimum undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University), or a combination of degree and equivalent experience to the same level.

Normally, we would expect candidates to have met the University’s English Language requirements (e.g., IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5+ in each component) by point of application.

Full eligibility can be found at:


Fees at UK rate and Stipend of £12,500, both for the period of one year.

For full details on funding eligibility, please refer to the Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) Website. Student Eligibility | M2A (

Candidates must have the legal right to live/work in the UK at the start of their studies (student visas do not apply)

Closing Date: Subject to number of applications

Start Date: 1st October 2022

Applications and informal enquiries about this studentship should be directed by email to:

Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) provides industry led postgraduate research training based at Swansea University's new Bay Campus. M2A is part funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.