Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Molecular Science and Nanotechnology

First Advisor

David K. Mills


A surging demand for the development of new antimicrobial nanomaterials exists due to the frequency of medical device-associated infections and the transfer of pathogens from highly touched objects. Naturally occurring halloysite clay nanotubes (HNTs) have shown to be ideal particles for polymer reinforcement, time-release drug delivery, nano-reactor synthesis, and as substrate material for nanostructured coatings.

This research demonstrates the feasibility of a novel method for coating HNTs with metals for antibacterial applications. The first ever ability to coat HNTs through electrolysis was developed for customizable and multi-functional antibacterial nanoparticle platforms. HNTs were investigated as substrate for the deposition of copper (Cu) and silver (Ag) metal nanoparticles through electrochemical syntheses, and as a platform for nano-structured antibacterial polymer composites. Characterization of interfacial and material properties demonstrated the feasibility of electrolysis as a new efficient and replicable nano-scale surface modification route. Methods of encapsulating HNTs in nanofibers, three-dimensional printer filaments, and multifunctional polymer rubbers were also realized. The nanofabrication methods, nanoparticles, and polymer composites created in this work were novel, scalable, easy-to-replicate, and displayed antibacterial features with tunable properties.