Dr K. H. Aaron Lau

Senior Lecturer

Pure and Applied Chemistry

Personal statement

Lau Laboratory for Bioinspired Molecular Interfaces and Nanomaterials

My research aims to establish the design rules for creating synthetic polymers and nanostructures that mimic the structure and function of natural biomolecules. At the same time, since my biomimetic structures would be governed by the same biophysical principles acting on their natural counterparts, I aim to use these structures as physical models to test hypotheses on the functional mechanisms of the natural systems. This fundamental research into the biophysical and materials chemistryof biomimetic molecules will, in the long-term, expand the possibilities of controlling biological interactions and enable improvements in human health and our ability to fashion material functionality at will. 

Proteins and their self-assembled structures, which constitute the molecular machinery performing many of life’s chemical processes, are of particular interest. To reduce the level of complexity and enable chemical routes of investigation, I develop synthetic peptidomimeticpolymers called “peptoids” which closely mimics the chemical structure and properties of peptides, the biomolecules from which proteins are formed. To mimic larger protein structures, I also employ already available synthetic nanostructures, e.g. nanoparticles and nanoporous membranes, as scaffolds on which biofunctional molecules such as peptoids and others can be attached. This research requires development of new nano-characterizationtechniques, such as the nanoporous waveguide spectroscopy that I am developing, as well as chemical methods of integrating synthetic materials with biomolecules (i.e. biofunctionalization). I am therefore also developing reactive polyphenols coatingsformed from plant tannins, that can be used to functionalize a diverse range of materials with proteins, peptoids, and other (bio)molecules. 

Overall, my research is highly interdisciplinary and exemplifies the rapidly emerging fields of “bioinspired materials” and “biointerfaces”. The research brings together the experimental synthesis of biomimetic molecules and nanostructures, self-assembly and biofunctionalization, as well as biophysical characterization. This expertise may also enable nearer-term applications in biomaterials, sensing (e.g. environmental monitoring, medical diagnostics) and the processing of biomolecules (e.g. purification, biocatalysis).  


Has expertise in:

    General Areas of Expertise

    • Biointerfaces, Cell-Surface and Protein-Surface Interactions
    • Nanopores: Transport/Diffusion of Macromolecules
    • Polymer Brushes and Hydrogels
    • Surface Modification
    • Protein and Enzyme Assays, Peptide Characterization

    Material Systems under Investigation

    • Peptoids: Poly(N-Substituted Glycines)
    • Nanoporous Alumina
    • Polymer Surface Grafting and Polymerisation
    • Polyphenolic/Polycatecholic Coatings

    Technical Expertise

    • Solid Phase Synthesis
    • Macromolecular Self-Assembly
    • Anodisation
    • Radical Polymerisation
    • Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), Ellipsometry, and Related Surface Optical Measurements
    • AFM, XPS, SEM

Prizes and awards

HFSP Young Investigator Grant
Delegate to Scottish Crucible 2015
Researcher Mobility Fellowship

more prizes and awards


A sequential process for manufacturing nature-inspired anisotropic superhydrophobic structures on AISI 316L stainless steel
Cai Yukui, Xu Zongwei, Wang Hong, Lau King Hang Aaron, Ding Fei, Sun Jining, Qin Yi, Luo Xichun
Nanomanufacturing and Metrology (2019)
A hybrid laser ablation and chemical etching process for manufacturing nature-inspired anisotropic superhydrophobic structures
Cai Yukui, Luo Xichun, Xu Zongwei, Lau King Hang Aaron, Ding Fei, Qin Yi
EUSPEN's 19th International Conference & Exhibition, pp. 90-93 (2019)
Crystallization and lamellar nanosheet formation of an aromatic dipeptoid
Castelletto Valeria, Chippindale Ann M, Hamley Ian W, Barnett Sarah, Hasan Abshar, Lau King Hang Aaron
Chemical Communications Vol 55, pp. 5867-5869 (2019)
Highly active protein surfaces enabled by plant-based polyphenol coatings
Sousa Ana M L, Li Tai-De, Varghese Sabu, Halling Peter J, Lau King Hang Aaron
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces Vol 10, pp. 39353-39362 (2018)
Atomistic study of zwitterionic peptoid antifouling brushes
Cheung David L, Lau King Hang Aaron
Langmuir Vol 35, pp. 1483-1494 (2018)
Superhydrophobic structures on 316L stainless steel surfaces machined by nanosecond pulsed laser
Cai Yukui, Chang Wenlong, Luo Xichun, Sousa Ana ML, Lau King Hang Aaron, Qin Yi
Precision Engineering Vol 52, pp. 266-275 (2018)

more publications

Professional activities

10th International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies
Invited speaker
257th American Chemical Society National Meeting - Orlando
257th American Chemical Society National Meeting - Orlando
257th American Chemical Society National Meeting - Orlando
Bioinspired Nanomaterials - RSC Chemical Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Interest Group ECR Meeting
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces (Journal)
Peer reviewer

more professional activities


Plant-based coating application on biocatalytic chemical resins
Lau, K. H. Aaron (Principal Investigator)
18-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2020
Synthesis, characterization, and coatings of antibacterial peptoids over metallic implants
Lau, K. H. Aaron (Principal Investigator) SAXENA, Varun (Post Grad Student)
Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Split Site PhD Scholarship
07-Jan-2019 - 06-Jan-2020
Organic Synthesis, Polymer Chemistry and Nanomaterials
Lau, K. H. Aaron (Principal Investigator) Azeem, Iqra (Post Grad Student)
Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Split Site PhD Scholarship
01-Jan-2018 - 30-Jan-2019
Doctoral Training Partnership 2018-19 University of Strathclyde | Merrilees, Martyn
Lau, K. H. Aaron (Principal Investigator) Sefcik, Jan (Co-investigator) Merrilees, Martyn (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 01-Jan-2022
An advanced integrated process for the treatment of sewage plant effluent using bio-based antimicrobial metal biosorbents and photocatalytic materials
Lau, K. H. Aaron (Principal Investigator) Ivaturi, Aruna (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2020
Surface modification using novel peptoids for antimicrobial applications
Lau, K. H. Aaron (Principal Investigator) Hasan, Abshar (Post Grad Student)
Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Split Site PhD Scholarship
01-Jan-2017 - 30-Jan-2018

more projects


Pure and Applied Chemistry
Technology Innovation Centre

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