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Gunby wins awards for researching protective coatings

Gunby wins awards for researching protective coatings

June 10, 2014

University of Canterbury postgraduate chemistry student Nathaniel Gunby who is researching protective coatings useful for the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and also for encouraging bone growth on joint replacements has won two significant awards.

He has been received a Todd Foundation award allowing him to attend the 2014 World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists conference in Santiago, Chile, later this year.

Gunby has also been awarded a Lord Rutherford Memorial Research Fellowship for two years. The scholarship was set up 73 years ago to commemorate the late Baron Rutherford of Nelson, a former graduate of the University of Canterbury and one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.

He is studying physical chemistry and trying to understand why chemicals behave the way they do in fundamental physics and using this understanding to develop predictive models with real-world applications. He is investigating a technique which deposits a thin coating on objects, even on curved surfaces.

Some medicinal drugs are developed using a technique which uses a predictive model of how strongly potential drugs bind to a target molecule. His lecturer Dr Sarah Masters says coatings have useful protective properties

``Coatings need to be thin so that they don't interfere with the normal function of objects. Nathaniel is studying protective coatings made of aluminium oxide and his research focuses on improving the purity of coatings designed to protect machine parts.

``Coatings are useful for preventing machine parts from oxidising or creating frictional corrosion and are used in the mining, energy, and manufacturing industries. They also help bone growth on joint replacements or using light energy to kill infectious bacteria on an object which is important with growing antibiotic resistance,’’ Dr Masters says.


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