Surface Presentation

Optimizing antimicrobial activity

Enhancing antimicrobial activity of surfaces

Optimal presentation of actives to targets

Achieving long term biocidal activity

Mechanisms of Potency - Solid/Biocide/Bacteria Interface Imaging

This PhD project will develop a new deeper understanding of the actual physical and mechanical changes at the bacteria-solid biocide interface during the killing process using the new Atomic Force Microscopy facility.


Solid biocides anchored as a monolayer on substrates like quartz and polyurethanes will be studied for potency at a monomolecular level. The work will be aimed at producing greener biocides on versatile polymers  thereby extending the application of these biocides with reduced environmental toxicity.

The later stages of the project will be concerned with applications of surface anchored or adsorbed Quaternary Ammonium Salts (QAS) in water quality and industrial (construction & coatings) sectors.

PhD student Rachel Matthews

Rachel is an enthusiast student from India, who has done her Masters in Industrial Chemistry from NUS (Singapore) & TUM (Germany). She is passionate about Polymers and its industrial applications

​Antimicrobial Polymeric Surfaces

Qiang’s project aims to design a novel, efficient and multi-functional antimicrobial polymer, and use it to modify surfaces to be shielded.  

There are two mechanisms rendering surfaces antimicrobial:

  • Antifouling effect: the surface repels the cells from initial attachment, preventing colonisation altogether

  • Biocidal effect: the surface inactivates or kill any micro-organism reaching its active component

Qiang’s goal is to produce a multi-functional polymer with both mechanisms. He is thoroughly investigating the interaction between the surface, the polymer and the micro-organisms in order to optimize the final material. End goal is to apply protective coatings over surfaces of hospitals or aerospace industries where crucial hygiene is paramount.

PhD student Karl Qiang Zhang

Qiang received a BSc(Honors) in chemistry at University of Auckland, and he is passionate about synthesis of polymer and following applications with surfaces

​Absorption of Model Antibacterial Polymers to Metal Surfaces

This project's goal is to develop a novel concept in antimicrobial protection of stain-less steel.

Stainless steel is used widely in food and pharmaceutical production, air conditioning, hospitals, where it is important that the surfaces are kept as sterile as possible. However many systems such as pipework are difficult to clean properly and so remain a potential source of contamination.


The team is producing polymers and small molecules that will stick tenaciously to the steel surface in a single invisible one molecule thick layer and should resist harsh conditions. They are engineered to contain potent bacterial killing groups that stay bactericidal for long periods of time.

PhD student Joseph Nichols

Joseph received a BSc Honours in Physics (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA) and served in Auckland Uni as a research engineer. Joseph is passionate about polymer physics and cutting edge synthesis.

Published Work