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

Strathclyde medal: team award
HFSP Young Investigator Grant
Delegate to Scottish Crucible 2015
Researcher Mobility Fellowship

More prizes and awards


A Convention for Peptoid Monomer Naming
Swanson Hamish W A, Lau King Hang Aaron, Tuttle Tell
Peptoid self-assembly : from minimal sequences to functional nano-assemblies and biomedical applications
Swanson Hamish William Alan, El Yaagoubi Marwa, Jawed Aquib, Saxena Varun, Merrilees Martyn, Tuttle Tell, Pandey Lalit M, Hamley Ian W, Lau K H Aaron
Supramolecular Nanotechnology Advanced Design of Self- Assembled Functional Materials (2023) (2023)
Solvent-controlled self-assembly of Fmoc protected aliphatic amino acids
Koshti Bharti, Swanson Hamish W A, Wilson Basil, Kshtriya Vivek, Naskar Soumick, Narode Hanuman, Lau King Hang Aaron, Tuttle Tell, Gour Nidhi
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (2023)
Multifunctional peptide biointerfaces
Lau King Hang Aaron, Pandey Lalit M, Saxena Varun, Mukhtar Asma
Peptide Bionanomaterials From Design to Application (2022) (2022)
Measuring interface induced concentration enhancement in solutions
Mackay R, Lau K H A, Sefcik J
CMAC Annual Open Day 2022, pp. 58-58 (2022)
Constant pH coarse-grained molecular dynamics with stochastic charge neutralization
van Teijlingen Alexander, Swanson Hamish W A, Lau King Hang Aaron, Tuttle Tell
Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters Vol 13, pp. 4046−4051 (2022)

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


Developing Membrane Targeting Antimicrobial Lipo-Peptoids by Modular Peptidomimicry and High Throughput Imaging (HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF-01) mTAPeptoid
Lau, K. H. Aaron (Principal Investigator) Bauer, Ralf (Co-investigator)
18-Jan-2022 - 17-Jan-2024
European Network on Nature-Inspired Materials (RSE Saltire Facilitation Awrds)
Lau, K. H. Aaron (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 30-Jan-2023
An Experimental-Computational Co-Investigation of Peptoid Liquid-Liquid Phase Transition
Lau, K. H. Aaron (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 30-Jan-2023
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

More projects


Pure and Applied Chemistry
Technology Innovation Centre

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