Professor David Williams

Emeritus Investigator

Phone: 09 373 7599 x89877

Postal Address:

School of Chemical Sciences
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92 019
Auckland 1142

David is best known as a serial founder of technology start-up companies. A graduate of the University of Auckland (PhD, electrochemistry, 1974), after post-doctoral work at Oxford University and Imperial College London and industry experience at IMI Titanium, Birmingham, he developed his research career in electrochemistry and chemical sensors at the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, in the 1980s. He co-founded Capteur Sensors Ltd; was Chief Scientist of Inverness Medical Innovations, and since joining the University of Auckland, has co-founded Air Quality Ltd; Orbis Ltd, and SpotCheck Technologies. His research has broad scope in electrochemistry and chemical sensors – and he is an inventor on around 50 patents and patent applications. Most importantly, perhaps: he has been a major contributor to culture change within the MacDiarmid Institute, in supporting and mentoring other researchers interested in commercialising research.



Associated Content

2018 KiwiNet Awards Finalist – Professor David Williams

The list of all finalists and winners can be accessed here.


MacDiarmid Investigators Cather Simpson and David Williams discuss how materials science is changing the way farmers analyse milk – Our Changing World

MacDiarmid Investigators Cather Simpson and David Williams discuss how materials science is changing the way farmers analyse milk – Our Changing World Listen to the Podcast on RadioNZ


What Industry Wants

At certain times of year, usually when a grant round has been announced, academics will pick up the phone and ring people in industry to drum up support for their applications.


MacDiarmid Institute Refunded: Thank you and congratulations

With the news that we have been successful in gaining funding through to the end of 2020 I get to be a bit self-indulgent this week and focus on thanking people for their participation and support during the past year or so as we developed the strategy for the bid. Many people have played very […]


Want more? Be specific! AND explain why

More of everything no matter what it is? And while we generally place boundaries on our own demands ourselves or they are placed there for us, in the end if there were no consequences would we ever stop? But in wanting or asking for more shouldn’t we know what the more will be used for; […]


The Christmas Wrap

We’ve had another big year. We welcomed two new Deputy Directors Profs David Williams (UoA) and Alison Downard (UoC) (Shaun Hendy stepping down at the end of last year and Simon Brown at mid year). We also welcomed six new Principal Investigators (Natalie Plank (VUW), Cather Simpson (UoA), John Kennedy (GNS), Duncan McGillivray (UoA), Bernd […]



“Izon Science designs and manufactures precision instrumentation for nano- and micro-scale particle analysis. The instrument systems, the qNano and qViro-X, are now in use in a wide range of research institutes and universities around the world.” Izon Sciences has benefited greatly from MacDiarmid work addressing the mechanisms of particle transport through nanopores (research conducted by […]


The Bid is Gone – YAY – let the doing begin!

Eight months of living and breathing the MacDiarmid Institute Centre of Research Excellence funding proposal to come down to a click of the mouse. Where were the trumpets, the marching band, the ticker tape parade?! Shouldn’t such a momentous occasion be marked with an explosion of lights and fanfare rather than the soft snoring sound […]


Penny Brothers: Exploring surface patterning

Story by Kate Hannah Professor Penny Brothers is as proud and enthusiastic talking about her family as she is her science – her screensaver is a beautiful shot of her climbing Mt Aspiring with her son Tristan. She tells me, with some pleasure, that she’s delighted to be the incoming President of both the New […]


Collaboration & competition in a small pool

Story by Vicki Hyde   The Lord of the Rings movies have made a lot of people want to come to New Zealand, and the MacDiarmid Institute’s PhD candidate Nihan Ayedemir confesses to being one of them. Stunning scenery aside, what really drew her to advanced polymer research at Auckland University’s Travas- Sjedic Group was […]

Still Fun After All These Years

  For MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator David Williams, twenty years of taking his lab-based research to the market in various forms hasn’t dimmed the excitement of being a part of such development. “Good science leads to good technology, and if you’ve got good technology you can commercialise it,” he says. “It’s great.” It’s a familiar […]

Distinguished Awards in 2011

  Professor Jeff Tallon was awarded the 2011 New Zealand Institute of Physics’ Dan Walls Medal. The Dan Walls medal is awarded to the physicist working in New Zealand for at least the past ten years who is deemed to have made the greatest impact, both nationally and internationally, in his/her field of research. Jeff is a […]

A Culture of Commercialisation

In general, I see my role as being to facilitate commercialization activity in the Institute, and to build a culture of commercialisation.  I’m not going to be doing the commercialisation in the sense of starting companies and writing business plans but, hopefully, I can help put structures and networks in place to support people who want […]

Is it possible to make money from science in New Zealand?

  “As I sail my boat in Auckland harbour and look at the skyline of the central business district I don’t see any businesses based on science,” said entrepreneur Dr Brett Wells at the recent MacDiarmid symposium. “What I see are mostly service industries. Without the big technology companies or venture capitalists, like they have […]

Extending the OE

  When David Williams left New Zealand in the mid-1970s, he was anticipating a two-year OE and hoping for a change in direction after his PhD in electrochemistry. More than three decades later, he finally returned home in 2006 to take up a position at his alma mater, the University of Auckland, and to join the […]

Being a PhD Student in New Zealand

  Raoul Peltier, France What degree are you doing?A PhD in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Auckland, supervised by Professors David Williams and Margaret Brimble. What is your research about?Antifreeze glycoproteins found in Antarctic fishes inhibit the growth of tiny ice crystals at cold temperatures. This allows the fish to survive in […]