Novel Anti-Microbial Metallic Surfaces for Infection Control


Key Information

Academic supervisors: Dr Rowena Jenkins, Dr Rowan Brown, Dr Thierry Maffeis.

Industrial supervisor: Dr Patrick Dodds.


Worldwide antibiotic use rose by 40% between 2000 and 2010, which combined with international travel and migration has allowed antimicrobial resistant pathogens to spread. There is a global shortage of effective antimicrobial agents, and for some infections there are now no treatments. The UK government’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has estimated that by 2050, 10 million people a year will die from AMR infections. The impact of AMR will not be seen only in terms of morbidity and mortality but also in the economy with an approximation that if no new antimicrobial treatments are found, then by 2050 the world economy will have lost 7% of its GDP, $100.2 trillion.

Currently, every year in Europe 33,000 people die from infections they have caught whilst in hospital. Infectious diseases are a significant health and economic burden in the UK, also accounting for 7% of deaths and annual costs of £30bn. The shortage of effective antimicrobial treatments has been compounded by the lack of novel agents in development and a lack of alternative strategies to reduce microbial spread. New ways of preventing the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria especially amongst vulnerable populations, such as those in the healthcare system, could reduce the number of healthcare associated infections and reduce antibiotic usage.

The sponsor company in collaboration with the academics will work to identify effective nano reservoir systems, show the effectiveness at reducing or preventing microbial growth on the surface, and prove the technology can create a reduction in antibiotic resistant bacteria on surfaces. The surfaces need to be highly durable and not cause a reaction to humans upon touch, due to the high usage in a hospital environment.

The student will investigate the properties of the nano reservoir structures and assess their efficacy against antibiotic resistant bacteria (e.g., Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli) by using antibiotic susceptibility methods. They will be expected to work and communicate within a multi-disciplinary team, gathering and analysing data and presenting results where appropriate (e.g., lab group meetings, conferences, reports). They should be enthusiastic about translational research and self-motivated to tackle challenges or seek guidance as and when needed.

Project Aims:

  1. Develop novel nano reservoirs that can be combined effectively with a range of anti-microbial agents.
  2. Determine the most effective coating technique to allow optimal release of antimicrobial agents.
  3. To determine whether a range of clinically relevant antibiotic sensitive and antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are inhibited by novel surfaces/systems.
  4. To establish which surface/system has the broadest range of activity.
  5. To ascertain how the duration of exposure impacts on the efficacy of the surface/system under consideration.

The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) in the College of Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry, providing access to world-class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. The M2A is committed to providing top quality research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners.

Interwoven through the research study are business, technical and entrepreneurial courses, designed to support and prepare participants for a senior role in industry or academia, on completion of their studies. Research Engineers may participate in our career mentoring system, offering opportunity to engage with M2A alumni and other senior staff from across the University.

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committee to addressing unequal gender representation. Applications from women are particularly welcomed.

Before submitting an application for the project, please see our Hints & Tips document which can be found here.

Sponsoring Company:

Hexigone Inhibitors Ltd.


We welcome applications from candidates with Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, and Biomedical disciplines. 2.1 or 1st class degree preferred, or equivalent relevant experience that would enable the candidate to fulfil the role.

Full eligibility can be found at


Fees at Home / EU rate, and Stipend £20,000 per annum, for each of the four years.
For full details on funding eligibility, please refer to the Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) Website (Student Eligibility | M2A).
Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is not open to ‘International’ candidates.

Closing Date: 30th April 2021

Start Date: October 2021

Applications and informal enquiries about this studentship should be directed by email to:

Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) provides industry led postgraduate research training based at Swansea University's new Bay Campus. M2A is part funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.