Dr Colin Crick


Research Overview

Functional Materials, Superhydrophobic, Coatings, Surface Functionalisation, Sustainable Materials, Antifouling, Sensors, Polymer Composites


The Crick Research Group champions an applied science approach aimed at the fabrication of materials through the specific engineering of surface morphology and chemistry. The areas of interest encompassed by this research extend widely, but the principal fields are summarised below.


Superhydrophobic Materials

Superhydrophobic (highly water repellent) materials have a range of applications areas, including; self-cleaning, antifouling, drag-reduction, and water/ice repulsion, in addition to many others. They are fabricated by combining inherently water repellent (non-polar) surface chemistry and an intense surface roughness (at the micro/nanoscale). Key areas of investigation include:

  • The maximisation of water repelling properties and physical resilience.
  • The demonstration of long-term biocide-free antifouling and drag reducing properties.
  • Generate superhydrophobic materials for real-world implementation.


Novel Coating Processes

The Crick group possess specialisation in a range of materials fabrication and coating technologies, which are utilised in a range of ongoing research projects. However, investigative flexibility remains central to the group’s ethos, with time dedicated toward generating completely new processes. This is particularly the case when manufacturing surface coatings. Whereby the development of optimal functional properties may require novel procedures to be developed.

A recent example of a novel fabrication method developed by the group involves the room temperature CVD of polymers (https://doi.org/10.1039/C9TA01379B).


Advanced Materials Characterisation

The production of materials with specialised surface chemistries/morphologies requires advanced characterisation for successful validation. The group have a track record of employing a range of imaging, microscopy, and spectroscopic techniques, the utilisation of which is dependant on the materials being investigated. This also involves the development of novel characterisation methodologies.

Recent examples include the characterisation of superhydrophobic materials using water bouncing (https://doi.org/10.1039/C1CC14749H) and shear stress measurements (https://doi.org/10.1039/C7TA10510J).


Sensor Materials

The architecture of any material, particularly at small length scales (micro/nanoscale), can induce functional properties (exemplified by superhydrophobicity). Plasmonic materials are an area of research where functionality is linked directly to material dimensions. One of the best-known examples of plasmonic materials is gold, whereby a variation in length scale changes the optical properties of the material substantially (from appearing yellow in the bulk, turning purple/blue at the nanoscale). Plasmonic materials have many applications, with molecular sensing being one of these. The Crick group utilise their expertise in morphological manipulation to generate targeted plasmonic behaviour and develop sensor substrates.