Professor Jim Johnston

Emeritus Investigator

Phone: 04 463 5334

Postal Address:

School of Chemical & Physical Sciences
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600
Wellington 6140

johnston2Professor Jim Johnston has a Personal Chair in Chemistry in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry. His research programmes are positioned at the university-industry interface and are concerned with the innovative development of new materials and nanofunctionalised materials and new chemical process technologies. They include the use of nanogold and nanosilver are used as unique colourfast colourants and provide antimicrobial functionality on NZ wool for high value fashion apparel, upholstery textiles and carpets for international luxury markets.; nano-structured calcium silicate products and their industry applications; enhanced energy recovery from geothermal waters; and the use of wet air oxidation for treating organic waste streams. This has resulted in two new start up companies: Noble Bond Ltd to commercialize the nanogold and nanosilver wool technologies and products internationally, and Wetox Ltd to commercialize the wet air oxidation technology. He has published 140 research papers and is the inventor on 15 patents. Professor Johnston’s successes in the research and development and application of these innovative science and technology programmes have been recognised by him being awarded of the following prizes: 2007    NZ Institute of Chemistry “Industrial Chemistry Prize”. 2008    Wellingtonian of the Year 2008 (Science and Technology) 2009    The Bayer Innovation Award (Research and Development) 2011    Named one of New Zealand’s “40 Farm Thinkers” 2011    Victoria University of Wellington Research Excellence Award  



Associated Content


MI Investigators successful in MBIE Endeavour Round 2016 & Smart Ideas

12 of our Investigators were successful in MBIE 2016 Endeavour Round.

MacDiarmid Investigators are involved in both ‘Smart Ideas’ and ‘Research Programmes’.


Our new Emeritus Investigators

Quiet week this week, no controversy, think I did enough of that last time. This week it is time to shine the light on others. But first THANK YOU to the huge number of people I know and don’t know who contacted me and thanked me for speaking out on issues that they believe need […]


Hi Ho Silver Lining

“Fusing gold and silver with wool sounds like something from the ancient Greek legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece. In twenty-first century New Zealand, it’s an idea that agri-science firm Noble Bond thinks has the potential to save New Zealand’s ailing wool industry.” Unlimited Magazine has published a significant story about Professor Jim Johnston […]


Sector Pins Hopes on Golden Fleece

A golden yarn developed by Kiwi scientists and containing pure gold is expected to be sold to wealthy buyers of luxury carpets, rugs and furnishings.  Unlike the golden fleece in Greek mythology the yarn and completed woollen products will not have a golden colour at this stage. The Aulana-branded wool has been developed by Professor […]

Advanced Natural Fibre and Polymer Hybrid Materials (Johnston, MacKenzie)

The work will involve the incorporation and binding of metal nanoparticles, notably Au, Ag, Pd and related compounds onto and into natural fibres to provide nano-functionalisation and to fabricate nano-structured surfaces. Achieving control of the particle size and shape, self assembly and the chemical bonding of the respective nanomaterials to the fibre substrate will be […]

Nanostructured Materials for Applications in Catalysis (Golovko, Kemmitt, Brown(I), Johnston, Tilley, Telfer and others)

The chemical reactivity of the nano-structured catalysts will be explored with a focus on revealing structure-property relationships, particularly on how size, chemical composition and morphology of the nanoparticles affect their performance as catalysts. Their catalytic activity and selectivity will be investigated in relation to partial, selective oxidation under benign conditions, photocatalytic degradation of pollutants and […]


Nano-particle Size Analyser, Zetasizer and Vibrating Blade Viscometer

About the Instrument: The nanoparticle size analyser and zetasizer measures particle size from 0.6 nanometres (about six to ten atoms in a row) up to 0.2 microns and the surface charge or zeta potential of any sized particle that can be suspended in liquid. Neatly contained in a compact unit, it is accurate, reliable and […]


Jim Johnston awarded NZIC Prize for Applied and Industrial Chemistry

Congratulations to Jim Johnston, who has been awarded the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Prize for Excellence in Industrial and Applied Chemistry; a significant national honour awarded for meritorious achievement in the field of industrial or applied chemistry. Jim has built an impressive research platform in the development of new chemical process technology and new […]


Going for Gold – Dr Andrea Kolb

Story by Vicki Hyde Nanotechnology provides a chance to change an ancient farm product, adding colour – and value – to the humble fleece. How to contribute further to the research programme of MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator, Professor Jim Johnston, has been on the mind of MacDiarmid Institute scientist Dr Andrea Kolb. Andrea recently completed […]

A Golden Opportunity

Chemists Kerstin Lucas and Fern Kelly – PhD apprentices to Professor Jim Johnston, a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute and master of the secret art of bonding gold and silver atoms to merino wool – linked up with Massey fashion students last year to imagine garments rendered in this luxurious product. Fern presented the […]

Paper, Wool and Paint … but not as we know it

  Imagine the following: inkjet printers that produce perfectly crisp, clean printed images on low cost paper; packaging that keeps its contents as cool or hot as required for long periods of time without electricity; walls that store heat from the sun during the day and release it at night; powder that soaks up phosphate from streams and recycles it as fertiliser; and clothing that can’t […]