K. H. Aaron Lau, [he/him]


  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile

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 chemistry of 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 peptidomimetic polymers 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-characterization techniques, 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).  

Expertise & Capabilities

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

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


  • Bioinspired Materials
  • Nanoporous Membranes/Materials
  • Peptoids
  • Biomaterials
  • Biointerfaces


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