Damiano La Zara

ALD/MLD for pharmaceuticals

Research description

The morphology, size and surface characteristics of drug particles play a crucial role in both their manufacturing and their administration into the human body. Surface modification with functional coatings has the potential to tailor the properties of the substrate material for various purposes such as controlled drug release, improved flowability, targeted drug delivery and drug stability. Atomic layer deposition (ALD) and its organic counterpart, molecular layer deposition (MLD), are gas-phase deposition techniques that enable the formation of ultrathin conformal films on complex 3D structures (e.g. drug particles) with precise thickness control at the sub-nanometer level. One of the best technologies to process large quantities of particles is fluidized bed reactors (FBRs), which are well-established technologies in the pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, vapor deposition processes carried out in FBRs constitute inherently scalable routes to manufacture nano-enginereed pharmaceutical particles.


This project – funded by AstraZeneca (a leading multinational pharmaceutical company) – aims at developing vapor deposition processes, based on ALD and MLD in FBRs, to (i) control drug release, (ii) improve bulk powder properties (e.g., flowability and dispersibility) and (iii) provide physicochemical stabilization of drug particles (e.g. stabilization to moisture). Furthermore, this study will seek to unravel the underlying drug dissolution mechanism via both experimental and modelling approaches.


Student projects

Bachelor and Master Projects are available. Depending on your inclinations, the projects will involve either the coating of pharmaceutical particles in fluidized bed reactors and the use of a suite of characterization techniques (e.g., SEM, TEM, FTIR, TGA, XPS, DVS and iGC-SEA) coupled with dissolution, flowability and stability tests or a modelling approach to understand the drug dissolution mechanism (or both). If you are interested in the topic, please contact me at d.lazara@tudelft.nl, to discuss the possibilities.

D. La Zara

PhD candidate