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Dr Qi Zhao (BSc, MSc, PhD) is the Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at the School of Science & Engineering, University of Dundee. Before joining the University of Dundee in 2001, he worked at the University of Surrey and at the German Aerospace Centre, as Senior Research Fellow on the development of advanced nanomaterials and coatings. He has actively pursued novel and advanced antimicrobial nano-composite coatings for medical devices and innovative anti-fouling and anti-corrosion coatings for industrial equipment. He has been awarded 14 substantial research grants from EPSRC (EP/P00301X/1; GR/R5728/01), EC FP6 (AMBIO), EC FP7 (BIOSURF), US Army, UK Department of Health, Scottish Executive Chief Scientist Office, and UK industries on the development of these coatings, leading to over 120 papers and 4 patents. He was invited to give 12 keynote lectures at international conferences. Supported by the research grants, he has created and built up a well-equipped Biomaterials Research Centre (Category II Biological) at Dundee University, which has been a resource for collaboration with many institutions in Europe.
He serves as a member of several professional bodies including the EPSRC Peer Review College and Editorial Board of the Surface Innovations journal to review research proposals for EPSRC, BBSRC, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Qatar National Research Fund, and reviews paper submissions for 60 journals.
My research interests include: (i) cell–surface interactions; (ii) microbial attachment to solid surfaces; (iii) anti-microbial surfaces and coatings; (iv) anti-fouling and anti-corrosion surfaces and coatings.
The high incidence of medical device-related infections and complications are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Silver-coated biomedical implants are widely used in hospitals. However, clinical trials have shown that the use of silver coated implants have resulted in an insignificant reduction in infection rates as bacteria (dead and alive) strongly stick to the silver-coated surfaces. The Dundee team, which I lead, first presented a new concept to solve the problem by incorporating PTFE nanoparticles with an inherent “non-stick” property into the silver matrix. The team has developed a range of novel anti-microbial surfaces and coatings for biomedical devices and implants, including silver-PTFE based nano-composite coatings and modified DLC coatings with Si, F and N.
Fouling of heat exchangers in processing industries is a chronic operating problem, which costs about 0.25% of the GNP of industrialised countries, about £1billion pa for UK and about £12billion pa for USA. The Dundee team has also developed a range of novel anti-fouling (biofouling, food fouling, protein, mineral fouling, particulate fouling) and anti-corrosion coatings for industrial pipelines and heat exchangers, including Ni-P-PTFE based nanocomposite coatings and the modified DLC coatings. My recent research work focuses on investigating the effect of surface properties (for example, surface energy and surface charge) and surface nano-structures on biofilm formation and fouling, both experimentally and theoretically.