Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Elizabeth R. Gillies

2nd Supervisor

Paul J. Ragogna

Joint Supervisor


Understanding the relationship between small molecules or polymers and how they affect the properties of materials they compose is the basis of materials science. Using unique and versatile components can impart useful and interesting properties to materials. Here, we aimed to extend this understanding to phosphorus, and the known properties it possesses. This included the production of photopolymerizable coatings containing phosphonium molecules and polymers for antifouling and antibacterial applications. The synthesis and characterization of these phosphonium components was completed and materials were produced utilizing UV curing technology. Addition of these components produced coatings that could resist bacteria attachment and efficiently kill bacteria that come in contact with the surface. Typical polyphosphonium antibacterials all possess similar alkyl functional groups. An alternative approach explored the use of different phosphonium substituents, including sugars and hydroxyl functional groups. The synthesis of these interesting phosphoniums from PH3(g) is described, along with their polymerization and antibacterial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. They were efficient at killing both strains of bacteria at low concentrations with corresponding low hemolytic activity. These results present a new direction for the design of antibacterial polymers in this field. Utilizing hydrophilic phosphonium polymers, self-healing ionic networks with poly(acrylic acid) were produced. The rheological and mechanical properties of the networks were studied to understand the effect of the polyphosphonium content within the networks. These properties were found to directly affected the materials ability to heal. Healing could be completed at low salt concentrations (99% for optimized polymer networks. This works presents a new direction and an alternative, simple method for homogeneous catalyst removal.