Process characterisation to assess industrial scale-up feasibility: Antimicrobial Surface Development

Supervisory team: Dr Sarah Grundy, A/Prof Jason Scott, and Mr James Morel


Whilst medical devices such as hip and knee joint replacements are transformative for people with chronic diseases, infection within the orthopaedic industry is a rapidly rising issue. Annually, 1% - 2% of implanted devices become infected, including approximately 30,000 of the 2 million hip and knee joint replacements that are implanted. Not only does it severely impact the lives of thousands of patients with increases in patient morbidity and mortality, it also represents a large financial burden on the national health care budget.

 A potential solution to the increasing infection risks of current treatments lies in the creation of a passive nano-surface directly on the implant, which exhibits antimicrobial properties over the life of the implant. The extreme scale of the surface morphology promotes an inherent bactericidal property and it has been shown on a laboratory scale that a similar if not more effective surface variant can be recreated directly on implant materials such as titanium.

This project will involve (one or combination), to be discussed based on your interest:

-        Identification of critical process operating parameters as well as substrate material properties and the significance of their effects on the resulting substrate surface. Operating parameters may include reactor vessel pressure, reactor vessel volume, temperature, reaction time, type/concentration/volume of etching solution;

-        In-depth analysis of the reaction kinetics for the hydrothermal etching process to ascertain the formation mechanism of the nano-surface and the effect of individual operating parameters on the resultant surface;

-        Classification of the required controls to ensure the physical process conditions (e.g. temperature profiles) are accurately maintained within ideal ranges as identified by the understanding of the reaction kinetics.

This is an industry-linked thesis project. Students will be supervised by Sarah Grundy, A/Prof Jason Scott and James Morel. If you have any questions, please contact Dr Sarah Grundy: