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Leverhulme Travel Bursary recipient, Marios Michaildis, reports from Barcelona

Marios Michaildis

28  July 2017

Marios Michaildis, Leverhulme Travel Bursary recipient, reports on his attendance at the 7th International Colloids Conference in Barcelona. He was given the opportunity to present a poster on his work developing novel synthetic antibacterial/antifouling coatings.

‘I am Marios Michailidis, currently a 4th year PhD student at the University of Liverpool. I would like to begin by thanking the SCI Leverhulme Travel Bursary for their generous financial support which enabled me to attend the 7th International Colloids Conference in Barcelona.

‘My research is focused on the development of novel functional fillers for antibacterial/antifouling coatings with advanced performance compared to the current state of the art coatings. Biofouling or biological fouling refers to the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae or animals on wetted surfaces. Antifouling is the ability of specifically designed materials and coatings to remove or prevent biofouling by any number of organisms on wetted surfaces. Since biofouling can occur almost anywhere water is present, it has several environmental and economic impacts and poses risks to a wide variety of objects such as medical devices, membrane systems, as well as to entire industries, such as paper manufacturing, drinking water systems, power stations and underwater equipment. Therefore, the creation of an effective fouling resistant coating that can prevent the early stages of biofouling is a major challenge. For that reason, our novel approach involves synthesising spherical mesoporous silica nanoparticles with dual antifouling functionalities as potential fillers for biofilm and fouling resistant coatings. In the first stage, we modify the surface of the nanoparticles with quaternary ammonium salts (QAS) which have been indexed in the literature as antibacterial/antifouling compounds for more than 60 years. The advantage of the QAS-modified materials in comparison with the classic biocide-release coatings can be attributed to their attachable nature to the fillers of the coatings which allows a permanent antifouling effect of the coating without the release of the biocide material. Afterwards, the modified nanoparticles are loaded with an additional biocide in order to achieve dual synergetic effect. The synthesised materials are added in to coating formulations and their antibacterial/antifouling performance is tested against several microorganisms.

‘This June, I attended the 7th International Colloids Conference which was held in Sitges, Barcelona, Spain. It is an annual conference that lasted for four days between 18 and 21 June, and was attended by roughly 500 delegates from several countries all over the world. The aim of this conference is to bring together delegates from academia and industry for communicating the latest developments in the fast-moving and ever-growing fields of colloid and interface sciences. Some of the covered topics related to colloid science which attracted my interest were: ‘Materials for catalysis, energy generation and storage’, ‘Nano-medicines, diagnostics and biomaterials’, ‘Functional and engineered interfaces, surfaces, films, membranes and composites’, and ‘Advanced polymers, surfactants, gels, biocolloids and soft matter systems’.

‘The conference started on Sunday afternoon with a few plenary speakers where the first interesting and inspiring talk was given by Prof Paula Hammond from MIT; it was related to nanolayered drug release systems for regenerative medicine and targeted nanotherapies. The following three days the talks included 5 plenary speakers, 14 keynote speakers and 3 parallel sessions with talks from several researchers from academia and industry. It was important to choose carefully between which presentations to attend and sometimes I had to choose between two interesting talks. There were several talks that attracted my strong interest because they were related to my research about colloidal mesoporous particles, surface modifications, surface properties of nanoparticles and encapsulation systems. In particular, I really enjoyed and found very useful a talk on the last day related to smart nanosystems as drug carriers from Prof Maria Vallet-Regi who is a recognised pioneer in the field of mesoporous ceramic materials applied to biomedicine.

‘At the end of the second day of the conference, I had the opportunity to present my poster entitled ‘Antifouling/antibacterial coatings containing modified mesoporous silica nanoparticles with dual effect’ to an audience of industrial and academic scientists working on various aspects of colloid and interface science. Particularly, it was a rare opportunity for me to interact with scientists and discuss my work with them, to gain useful feedback and beneficial suggestions and improve my presentation skills. Furthermore, the poster session was a great opportunity for networking with other young researchers all over the world and increased my contacts in academic and industrial level.

‘Overall, I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in this international conference which helped me to create new ideas for future research, broaden my network, establish new possible collaborations for the future and enhance my knowledge and my career prospects. I would like once again to thank SCI for awarding me the Leverhulme Travel Bursary without which I would not have been able to attend this internationally prestigious conference. Finally, I would like to thank my supervisor Prof Dmitry Shchukin for giving me the opportunity and supporting me to participate in this conference.’

Marios Michailidis
PhD Student
University of Liverpool

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