Synthesis and applications of impermeable microcapsules with a secondary metal shell, fundamentals of metal nanoparticle synthesis, control of 3D metal film growth using electro-less plating

​Dr Alison White is one of the pioneers of using metal shells to prevent unwanted loss of the encapsulated materials, demonstrating for the first time that full retention of a volatile microcapsule core could be achieved. She began working in this field in 2013 after completing her PhD on moisture diffusion in thin biopolymer films. The knowledge of diffusion gained from her PhD studies acted as a building block to her understanding and prevention of the diffusion of encapsulated materials through polymer microcapsule shells, and led to the discovery that a second, metallic film could be deposited onto polymer microcapsules to provide an impermeable barrier to diffusing species.

Working on this encapsulation technology from its conception has allowed her to fully explore how the system works and the areas which need further systematic development in order to optimise control and release of the core material, and also how the technology can be applied to solve existing issues in agrochemical delivery, drug delivery etc. 

Her current projects focus on the application of gold microcapsules as an implantable, actively-triggered, localised drug delivery vehicle for the treatment of high grade glioma, and developing cost-effective alternatives to gold as an impermeable microcapsule shell. 

Alison White graduated from the University of Bradford (UK) with a Masters (MChem) in Chemistry in 2009, and subsequently obtained a PhD in Food Colloids Chemistry in the School of Food Science and Nutrition under the supervision of Professor Jianshe Chen in 2014. Since then she has held Post-doctoral research positions in the Insititute of Particle Science and Engineering at the University of Leeds (2013-2015) and The University of Queensland, where she is currently based. She also holds a diploma in Cosmetic Science, and is a Royal Society of Chemistry Chartered Chemist.

Dr White has pioneered research into the use of inorganic shells to prevent unwanted diffusion of encapsulated active ingredients across a wide range of application areas, resulting in 6 granted patents and a further 2 applications, encompassing four key discoveries, in addition to 15 publications. She was awarded a poster prize at ChemEng Day, Sheffield UK in 2015 in the Materials Innovation category, and received a Future Women Leaders in Enginnering award in 2015 from Monash University. In 2016 she received a University of Queensland Early Career Researcher Grant of $15000. She was elected to the board of directors of the Australasian Colloid and Interface Society in 2017 and acted as treasurer until 2020. In 2021 she was involved in securing a $750,000 grant to establish the micro/nano particle characterisation facility at UQ, which she now runs, whilst continuing her research into encapsulation as an affiliate researcher in AIBN. 


​Dr White has engaged heavily with industry both during her PhD, sponsored by Henkel GmbH, and throughout her career. From 2013-2015 she collborated with Procter and Gamble UK to investigate prevention of unwanted release of fragrance molecules using gold nanoshelled microcapsules. In 2014 she worked with Astra Zeneca UK to investigate sedimentation behaviours of excipients in drug dosage forms. From 2017 until present Dr White has held a visiting researcher position at CSIRO due to her collaborative research into metal microcapsules as a drug delivery vehicle for the treatment of glioma, and more recently inorganic shelled microcapsules for small molecule active ingredient delivery. She also completed a short consultancy project with CannaPacific to assess the suitability of her encapsulation technology to the oral delivery of cannabinoids.


​UQ ECR grant 2016 $15000

UQ RSP infrastructure funding 2021 $750000

Key Publications

  1. Long-term Retention of Small, Volatile Molecular Species within Metallic Microcapsules, James Hitchcock, Alison Tasker, Elaine Baxter, Olivier Cayre, Simon Biggs, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2015, 7 (27), 14808-14815.
  2. Understanding the Mechanisms of Metal Shell Growth on Polymer Microcapsules to Control Shell Thickness, Tasker, A.L; Hitchcock, J.P.; Baxter, E. A.; Cayre, O.J.; Biggs, S., Chemistry: An Asian Journal. 2017 12 (13) 1461-1468
  3. The Effect of Surfactant Chain Length on the Morphology of Poly(Methyl Methacrylate) Microcapsules for Fragrance Oil Encapsulation, Tasker, A. L.; Hitchcock, J. P.; He, L.; Baxter, E. A.; Biggs, S.; Cayre, O. J., J Colloid Interface Sci. 2016, (484), 10-14.
  4. 2. Deposition Of Non-Porous Calcium Phosphate Shells Onto Liquid Filled Microcapsules, White A.L; Javier H.A; Biggs, S; Whittaker A.K; Rose S; Puttick S.G, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 2021, 609, 575-583 
  5. Templating Core-Shell Particles Using Metal-Ion Chelating Biosurfactants, Yeh C-M., Jarrett T., Zhao C-X., Whittaker, A.K., Sainsbury F., White A.L., Particuology, 2021 64, 145-152 (doi: 10.1016/j.partic.2021.06.003