Professor David Edward Williams



Professor David E Williams is a graduate of the University of Auckland.

He developed his research career in electrochemistry and chemical sensors at the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, in the 1980s. He became Thomas Graham Professor of Chemistry at University College London in 1991 and co-founded Capteur Sensors Ltd. He was Head of the Chemistry Dept at UCL from 1999-2002 and co-founded Aeroqual Ltd ( He was Chief Scientist of Inverness Medical Innovations, based at Unipath Ltd, Bedford, UK, from 2002-2005. He joined the faculty of the Chemistry Dept at The University of Auckland in February 2006, where he has co-founded Mote Ltd, Orbis Diagnostics and SpotCheck Technologies.

He is a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, and Associate Investigator of the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Biodiscovery and of the Centre for Medical Device Technology. He is an Adjunct Professor at The Australian Institute for Bio-Nano Technology at University of Queensland. He was  Adjunct Professor at Dublin City University where he was a Principal Investigator in the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Biomedical Diagnostics Institute. He is a Visiting Professor at University College London, where he has strong research links, and University of Southampton, and has been Visiting Professor at University of Toronto and Cranfield University of Technology and Honorary Visiting Professor of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. He is a Visiting Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University, UK.

He has published around 290 papers in international journals, and is inventor on around 50 patents.

Google scholar:

Research | Current

  • Electrochemistry and corrosion science (awarded the Geoffrey Barker Medal in Electrochemistry, Royal Society of Chemistry and U.R Evans award of the Institute of Corrosion)
    Work on the mechanism of localised corrosion of stainless steels, particularly stochastic fluctuations in rate, led to a paradigm shift in the field. Pioneered scanning microscopy methods in electrochemistry, analytical methods using easily fabricated microelectrodes, and electrochemical studies of biomolecules at liquid-liquid interfaces. Led synchrotron studies of carbon dioxide corrosion of pipeline steels, leading to understsanding of siderite scale crystallisation.
  • Semiconducting oxides as gas sensors (awarded the John Jeyes Medal and Lectureship of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Pickering Medal of the Royal Society of New Zealand and Castner Medal of the Society for Chemical Industry)
    Introduced robust new materials for gas sensors, and ingenious new ways of fabricating sensors and employing them in trace gas measurement instruments. The sensor materials and methods were commercialised through new companies – Capteur Sensors Ltd in the UK (subsequently absorbed into City Technology Ltd ) and Aeroqual Ltd and Mote Ltd in NZ ( ). Current work is on deployment of extensive networks of low-cost instruments for air quality measurement and on techniques for assessing data reliability.
  • Biomolecules at interfaces: studies of adsorption of enzymes and antibodies, and relationship between adsorbed conformation and activity
    A feature of this work has been collaboration with Dublin City University, Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, on bio-device development. Commercial work at Inverness Medical was directed to development of new devices for trace hormone measurement in small samples of blood and urine. Current work is on microfluidics and Raman spectroscopy for milk analysis (with Cather Simpson), on peptide and polymer templating of nanoparticles (with Juliet Gerrard, Laura Domigan and Jenny Malmstrom), on switchable surfaces and DNA sensors based on conducting polymers (with Jadranka Travas-Sejdic)

Research associates

  • Dr Michel Nieuwoudt (with Cather Simpson)
  • Dr Alex Risos (with Cather Simpson)
  • Dr Lena Wiessert (with Jennifer Salmond, School of Environment)
  • Dr Georgia Miskell
  • Dr Kyle Alberti (at Aeroqual)
  • Dr Lita Lee (at Aeroqual)
  • Dr Woodrow Pattison (at Mote)
  • Mr Hamesh Patel (with Jennifer Salmond)
  • Ms Vibha Sekhar (with Cather Simpson)
  • Dr Alireza Akbarinejad (with Jadranka Travas-Sejdic and David Barker)

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD and MSc students

  • Sesha Manuguri (with Jenny Malmstrom, Chemical and Materials Engineering) and Juliet Gerrard
  • Zainab Makinde (with Duncan McGillivray and Laura Domigan (Biological Sciences)
  • Ziqi Lu (with Penny Brothers)
  • Matheus Vargas (with Cather Simpson)
  • Sina Sheikholeslami (with Wei Gao, Chemical and Materials Engineering)
  • Aakanksha Rani (with Margaret Brimble)
  • Peikai Zhang (with Jadranka Travas-Sejdic)
  • Taniela Lolohea (with Duncan McGillivray)


Senior Scholar in Chemistry and Mathematics, 1969

Postgraduate Scholar, 1970

Senior Hulme (Overseas) Scholar, Brasenose College Oxford, 1974

Visiting Professor in Chemistry, Southampton University,    1987-1991

Royal Society (London) Industry Research Fellow,  1994-1997

Royal Society of Chemistry, John Jeyes Medal and Lectureship, 1997

Visiting Professor, University of Toronto, 2000-2002

Royal Society of Chemistry, Geoffrey Barker Medal for Electrochemistry, 2002

Visiting Professor, Dept of Chemistry, University College London, 2002 -

Honorary Visiting Professor, Royal Institution of Great Britain, 2002 -

Visiting Professor, Cranfield University of Technology, 2003-2005

Visiting Professor, University of Southampton, 2006 –

Science Foundation for Ireland, ETS Walton Visiting Fellow, 2008

Adjunct Professor, Dublin City University, 2010 -

Fellow, Royal Society of NZ, 2009

Member: Marsden Fund Council, Royal Society of New Zealand, 2011- 2017

Maurice Wilkins Prize, for excellence in research, NZ Institute of Chemistry,2011

Pickering Medal, Royal Society of NZ, 2012, “for outstanding contributions to the development of biomedical and gas sensors”

Member, Science Board, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, NZ, 2013-2016

Vice Chancellor’s prize for research commercialisation, 2014

U.R Evans Award, Institute of Corrosion, 2015

Castner Medal, Society for Chemical Industry, 2015

Visiting Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, 2018

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Weissert, L., Miles, E., Miskell, G., Alberti, K., Feenstra, B., Henshaw, G. S., ... Salmond, J. A. (2020). Hierarchical network design for nitrogen dioxide measurement in urban environments. ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT, 22810.1016/j.atmosenv.2020.117428
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Salmond, Hamesh Patel
  • Williams, D. E. (2019). Low Cost Sensor Networks: How Do We Know the Data Are Reliable?. ACS sensors, 4 (10), 2558-2565. 10.1021/acssensors.9b01455
  • Williams, D. E. (2018). From sensors to low-cost instruments to networks: semiconducting oxides as gas-sensitive resistors. In R. C. Alkire, P. N. Bartlett, M. T. Koper (Eds.) Electrochemical Engineering: From Discovery to Product (pp. 261-322). Weiheim: John Wiley & Sons. 10.1002/9783527807215.ch9
  • Miskell, G., Salmond, J. A., & Williams, D. E. (2018). Solution to the Problem of Calibration of Low-Cost Air Quality Measurement Sensors in Networks. ACS sensors, 3 (4), 832-843. 10.1021/acssensors.8b00074
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Salmond
  • Sk, M. H., Abdullah, A. M., Ko, M., Ingham, B., Laycock, N., Arul, R., & Williams, D. E. (2017). Local supersaturation and the growth of protective scales during CO₂ corrosion of steel: Effect of pH and solution flow. Corrosion Science, 126, 26-36. 10.1016/j.corsci.2017.05.026
  • Williams, D. E., Kilburn, M. R., Cliff, J., & Waterhouse, G. I. N. (2010). Composition changes around sulphide inclusions in stainless steels, and implications for the initiation of pitting corrosion. CORROSION SCIENCE, 52 (11), 3702-3716. 10.1016/j.corsci.2010.07.021
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Geoffrey Waterhouse

Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 7, Room 755
New Zealand

Web links