Rob Pullar

Rob Pullar

Environmentally Sustainable Solutions for Pollution Remediation and Self-Sterilising Antibacterial Surfaces


Nano-dimensioned titania is attracting increasing interest, owing to its unique physio-chemical properties and the creation of electron-hole pairs under UV and/or visible light. This leads to a unique range of properties and widespread applications in solar energy conversion, sensors, photochromic devices, photocatalysis, antibacterial effects and environmental remediation of virtually all organic molecules. Surfaces containing such titania could be used to remove pollutants from waste waters and industrial effluents, as well as atmospheric pollutants from interior (“sick building syndrome”) or exterior surfaces. Titania can also become either super-hydrophobic or super-hydrophilic, depending upon the conditions, allowing for self-cleaning surfaces. Antibacterial or antimicrobial features could enable self-sterilising media for biomaterials, bio-implants, food packaging, kitchen surfaces, and construction materials for homes, hospitals and schools. Nanoparticles of materials such as metallic silver have also attracted a lot of attention for their well-known antibacterial properties, and we have shown that optical effects such as surface plasmon resonance (SPR) enable the tuning of the photochemistry of titania under visible light in Ag-doped TiO2. We have also shown that other dopants can shift the photo-activity from UV to visible light wavelengths, and improve the degradation of pollutants. Furthermore, we have shown calcium phosphates and apatites (e.g., HAp - Ca10(PO4)6 (OH)2), biomaterials derived from agricultural and fisheries wastes, to be suitable for bio-implants, pollution remediation, and to be photocatalysts in their own right, with antibacterial properties.

            However, the present drive for such photocatalysts and biomaterials often ignores the requirement for a genuinely environmentally sustainable solution to these problems. Clearly the processes used should be as environmentally benign as possible, water-based and avoiding organic solvents if we can, and using readily available, non-toxic and preferably recycled waste-derived starting materials. To this end we have a programme of research at Aveiro focusing on three approaches to creating a new generation of environmental and biomaterials:

  1. Nanosynthesis of photocatalyst NPs from environmentally benign aqueous routes.
  2. Valorising agricultural, fisheries and industrial wastes to produce sustainable materials for pollution remediation, biomedical and antibacterial uses. We have focused on using typical/traditional products of Portugal, such as bacalhao (cod) and sardine bones, Ginja cherry stones, cork, natural Portuguese clays, wastes from industry and local micro-organisms.
  3. The modification, tuning and optimisation of photocatalysts using dopants, nanoparticles, magnetic materials and composites.


to the European Conference on Materials and Technologies for Sustainable Growth website.

ECo MaTech will be held in Bled (Slovenia) from 19th to 21st of September 2013.

Eco MaTech is the third edition of a conference that started in 2009. The aim of ECo MaTech is to gather representatives of academic and R&D institutions, industry, governmental agencies and civil society to:

- present their work, ideas and products, 
- increase fruitful exhanges between all the actors involved in sustainable growth technologies, 
- increase the networking with sustainable growth professionals, 
- establish a general discussion platform on sustainable growth.


The conference excursion will take you to the Alpine lake Bohinj ( and waterfall Savica (
A farewell party will follow the lake trip by a boat. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

Only cash is exepted for on-site payment.

The poster panels are 1m wide and 2m high. The standrad A0 size posters are recommended (841mm:1189mm).