Nanoscience and Microsystems ETDs


Harry Pappas

Publication Date



Antibiotics are critical to the welfare of humans domestically and abroad, and their importance cannot be overlooked. However, over the past century, the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi has warranted the investigation of alternative antimicrobials and decontamination strategies. Recently, a new class of antimicrobial has come into view and appears to offer promise in our ongoing defense against pathogenic microbes. These compounds, known as p-phenylene ethynylenes, fundamentally differ from traditional antibiotics in that they are "light-activated" and deal broad-spectrum damage in a detergent-like manner. Despite the promise of these compounds, there was up until recently good reason to believe that they were simply not suitable for use outside of the laboratory. A series of studies, described herein, was conducted to address these legitimate concerns. First, the compatibility of oligomers with surfactant was investigated, and found to confer numerous biocidal benefits. Similar oligomers were found to be sporicidal and fungicidal. Polymers were also investigated, and were found to be well-suited for attachment onto glass surfaces. The culmination of these studies foreshadows the use of these compounds as anti-biowarfare agents, and at the point-of-care.


Antimicrobial, Light-Activated, Biocide, Fungicidal, Sporicidal, Reactive oxygen species, singlet oxygen, conjugated polyelectrolyte


Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the America Heart Association (AHA).

Document Type




Degree Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

Level of Degree


Department Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

First Advisor

Whitten, David G

First Committee Member (Chair)

Neumann, Aaron K

Second Committee Member

Ista, Linnea K

Third Committee Member

Keller, David J