The survival of microbial cells subjected to high-pressure shock waves

Supervisor: 
Professor Paul Hazell
Scientia Project Summary: 
Certain microorganisms demonstrate an amazing resilience to high-velocity shock compression waves and it is not clear why this is so. Using a state-of-the-art high-velocity two-stage gas gun, this research will investigate the mechanism by which certain microbes are able to survive extreme loading. Initially, it is proposed that glass micro-spheres are used as the subject of the study as an analogue for the microorganisms. Potentially, this research will: (a) provide new insight into the sterilisation of food products and (b) probe whether microbial life piggy-backing on a comet can survive a planetary collision.