Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Associate Professor James Beattie

AB, MA, PhD Northwestern (Basolo)

Position: Associate Professor, Chemistry

Affiliation: University of Sydney, School of Chemistry

Postal Address:
School of Chemistry
Building F11, University of Sydney
NSW 2006

Phone: +61 (02) 9351 3797

Research Profile

James Beattie was a Fulbright Fellow in the United Kingdom (at Peterhouse, Cambridge) and in 1971 was awarded an Alfred P Sloan Foundation Fellowship. He was subsequently elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (FAAAS), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (FRACI).

His 150 scientific papers have been cited about 2000 times since 1985. He is an inventor on a patent on the oxidation of organochlorine waste. His links with industry include 15 years as a consultant to Colloidal Dynamics Pty Ltd, the Chief Investigator on a SPIRT grant with Colloidal Dynamics, Chief Investigator on a grant from the NSW Environmental Protection Agency, and Chief Investigator in a collaboration with DSM, the Dutch chemical company, and Delft University of Technology on catalytic oxidations. He has presented invited lectures at International Conferences on Coordination Chemistry in Athens and Porto and the Stranks Memorial Lecture at The University of Melbourne.

James Beattie's preparation for the developmemt of colloidal drug delivery systems began with his experience with ultrasonic relaxation methods. These were used to measure the rates of intersystem crossing in metal complexes which are in spin-equilibrium between high-spin and low-spin electron configurations in solution. MHz ultrasonic pulse and resonance techniques established that these so-called forbidden reactions occur within tens of nanoseconds and do not constitute an intrinsic kinetic barrier to electron transfer reactions.

This awareness of ultrasonics led him to recognise the tremendous potential of the new science and technology of electroacoustics as it was being invented by Dick O’Brien in Sydney in the late 1980’s. When instrumentation became available he explored the range of applicability of the technique. His first studies on emulsions were with PhD student Wade on milk fat globules, for which different surfaces gave distinctive signals. This was followed by an extensive series of papers with PhD student Kong who showed how the method could be used to monitor the formation of emulsions, to make droplet size and charge determinations on concentrated systems of up to 50 vol% oil, and to use O’Brien’s gel-layer model to probe the conformation of adsorbed polymers on emulsion surfaces. Further developments in this area are described in the accompanying progress report.

Three other completed PhD theses have shown how the electroacoustic signals are modified by conducting particles (Guffond), how electroosmotic flow in mesoporous particles affects the dynamic mobility (Gibb) and how surface coating can be monitored (Djerdjev). This wide range of experience with different physical methods provides him with the knowledge, expertise and confidence to address the challenges of developing and testing various colloidal systems for drug delivery purposes.

Selected Publications

  1. Electroacoustic study of BSA or lecithin stabilised soybean oil-in-water emulsions and SDS effect, Linggen Kong, James K Beattie and Robert J Hunter, Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 27 (1), 11-21 (2003).
  2. Electroacoustic Study of Crystallisation of n-Eicosane Oil-in-Water Emulsions, Alex M Djerdjev, James K Beattie and Robert J Hunter, Langmuir 19 (17), 6605-10 (2003).
  3. Electroacoustic and Dielectric Response of Suspensions of Zeolites A and Y, James K Beattie, Alex M Djerdjev and Sophie E Gibb, New Journal of Chemistry 27 (8), 1433-9 (2003).
  4. Synthesis of CrCoAPO-5(AFI) molecular sieve and its activity in the cyclohexane oxidation in liquid phase, A Masters, J Beattie and A Roa, Catalysis Letters 75 (3/4), 159-62 (2001).
  5. Effects of Non-Ionic Surfactant and SDS Layers on Electroacoustics of Hexadecane/Water Emulsions, Linggen Kong, James K Beattie and Robert J Hunter, Colloid and Polymer Science 279 (7), 678-87 (2001).
  6. Electroacoustic Determination of the Size and Zeta Potential of Fat Globules in Milk and Cream Suspensions, Theresa Wade and James K Beattie, Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 10, 73-85 (1997).


  • Methods for producing emulsions by homogenisation, ultrasonication, or membrane extrusion.
  • Classical methods for characterising colloidal particles by light scattering, microelectrophoresis, etc.
  • Electroacoustics technology for measuring properties of concentrated colloidal dispersions

International Linkages

Colloidal Dynamics Inc, Rhode Island, USA