Associate Professor Michael R. Mucalo

Michael Mucalo

Associate Professor

Qualifications: MSc (Hons, First Class) Auckland, PhD Auckland

Personal Website:

Papers Taught

Research Supervised

Currently Supervised:


  • Jing Xu, (2021-ongoing), Sustainable construction materials from byproduct waste (part of MBIE project Amiomio Aotearoa)
  • Harshani Ranaweera, Kavitha, (2020-ongoing),  Chemical Characterisation and Repurposing of Construction Waste
  • Soleimani Zohr Shiri, Mohammad (2018-ongoing). Colloids/nanoparticles made  using reverse microemulsions
  • Beqain, Moh'd  Y (2017-ongoing). Novel substituted hydroxyapatites and their properties
  • Siddiqui, Humair  (2017-2021). Cattle-derived hydroxyapatite-(natural) Carbon Fibre Composites  (under examination)

MSc(Research) / MSc students currently supervised

Tim Dyche (2021-onward) : Towards cleaner fertilisers

Co-supervision of the following PhD students :

  • Huma Saeed (with Dr Adam Hartland) (submitted)
  • Ashok Kumar (with Dr Fei Yang, Engineering)
  • John Olabode Akindoyo (with Professor Kim Pickering in Engineering)
  • Carolina Aguirre (Tauranga) (with  Dr Joanne Ellis)

Research Interests

Biomaterials, Calcium phosphate chemistry, Metal colloids (nanoparticles), IR spectroelectrochemistry of  various systems in cyanide or pseudohalide-containing electrolytes Application of IR spectroscopy, Solid State NMR and X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometry to Research, Drug Delivery, Creation of value added products and sustainable materials through repurposing of byproduct/waste streams in New Zealand

My research interests cover a broad range of topics many of which are very topical within the international research environment. The first of these, Biomaterials, refers to the study of materials which are biocompatible with the body and so suitable for use as implants or prostheses. I have a particular interest in calcium phosphate-based materials chemistry which arises out of the fact that hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2 is the principal component of human and animal bone. The amount of fundamental and applied research involving the synthesis, chemical reactions and behaviour of hydroxyapatite as an implant in the body is huge. This is due principally to hydroxyapatite's bioactivity (i.e. ability to bind to bone in vivo) as opposed to stainless steel, alumina and zirconia which comprise the more classically used bioinert/biotolerant materials which do not have this bone-bonding ability. A large amount of research supported by both New Zealand and overseas funding sources has been carried out on the use of processed, waste bovine bone from agricultural sources as a bone replacement material in humans.

Current interests are in 1) creating stronger hydroxyapatite-based materials through compositing with carbonaceous materials  2) studying substituted hydroxyapatites, 3) using hydroxyapatite for water treatment to remove heavy metals, and 4) use of waste shell and polypropylene to create more sustainable construction materials. The effort in 4) is as a result of my involvement in the MBIE-funded Amiomio Aotearoa project (headed by Professor K. Pickering) which began in 2021.

The work emerging from my research in the past has involved many collaborations between various institutions both here and abroad, achieved both national and international recognition and has culminated in the case of the bovine bone research in a clinical study where the osteoconductivity of the materials was tested in a sheep model. 

Allied with this work of a general biomaterials theme is a research interest in  drug delivery for achieving slow steady release of drugs for veterinarian or human applications. I also have an interest in the use of various spectroscopic techniques for characterising materials such as IR spectroscopy and solid state NMR spectroscopy.

My other research area is in colloids; these are dispersions of particles that possess diameters on the borderline between that characteristic of classical bulk solids and atoms and molecules. Colloids have been famous in antiquity but have only been properly scientifically investigated since the mid 19th century when the first paper to be published on gold sols was published by Michael Faraday. Thereafter colloids were a popular topic of study especially in Germany with numerous papers published in the early years of the 20th century. After a lull of 80 years or so, research into what is now currently called "nanoparticle systems" has experienced a very strong renaissance due to their potential applications in "nanotechnology", the current buzzword of popular science. Fundamental chemistry research in this area focus on synthesis, particle size distributions, size and shape and catalytic properties as well as their optical properties. My research has focussed on synthesis, particle size and surface properties of precious metal colloids including Pt, Pd, Rh and Re using modern techniques not formerly used to study these systems in earlier days.

Spectroelectrochemistry is popularly referred to as a "marriage" between electrochemistry and spectroscopy. The technique arose because the techniques traditionally used in electrochemistry such as cyclic voltammetry only give rather indirect information on processes occurring at the electrode/electrolyte interface in working electrochemical cells. The use of a spectroscopic technique in conjunction with electrochemical techniques provide molecular information that can be associated with various observations gleaned from the voltammetric techniques. Using this approach a myriad of systems can be studied and my speciality is looking at some little studied metal/cyanide or metal/pseudohalide ion corrosion systems which are well suited to study by infrared spectroscopic techniques. Research done by previous PhD students that I have supervised has also involved the use of techniques such as X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy to do EXAFS./XANES which is made possible by access to the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne.

Recent Publications

  • Kumar, A., Mucalo, M., Bolzoni, L., Li, Y., Kong, F., & Yang, F. (2022). Fabrication, microstructure, mechanical, and electrochemical properties of NiMnFeCu high entropy alloy from elemental powders. Metals, 12(1), 167. doi:10.3390/met12010167 Open Access version:

  • Kou, S. G., Peters, L., & Mucalo, M. (2022). Chitosan: A review of molecular structure, bioactivities and interactions with the human body and micro-organisms. Carbohydrate Polymers, 119132. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2022.119132

  • Ranaweera, K. H., Grainger, M., French, A., & Mucalo, M. (2021). Repurposing construction and demolition waste: a review of current recycling strategies. Chemistry in New Zealand, (July/October), 56-60.

  • Kou, S. G., Peters, L. M., & Mucalo, M. R. (2021). Chitosan: A review of sources and preparation methods. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 169, 85-94. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2020.12.005 Open Access version:

Find more research publications by Michael Mucalo


Chemistry; Environmental Chemistry; Health; Materials and Processing; Metals; Waste; X-Ray

General colloid chemistry and measurements of their particle size distribution and surface charge; biomedical materials; IR spectroscopy and IR microscopy, Design of Controlled Release Drug Delivery Matrices for Agricultural or Biomedical purposes, In situ Electrochemistry of Cyanide-containing systems at various metal electrodes. Repurposing of natural by-products


Chemistry; Colloid Chemistry, Electrochemistry, Biomaterials/Biomedical Materials Chemistry, Controlled Release, Characterisation of solid pharmaceuticals, Industrial Chemistry, Creating added value products from waste materials

Contact Details

Email: [email protected]
Room: E3.07
Phone: +64 7 838 4404