Physics Nanoscience

Nanoscience is the most diverse division in Physics at Strathclyde. It reflects the broad range of scientific areas in which nanotechnology (the use of very small objects) will impact upon our future lives.

These areas include:

  • Semiconductor device physics
  • Biomolecular science
  • Sensor development
  • Computational biology
  • Ocean science
  • Gravitational wave detection
  • Super-resolution microscopy
  • Adaptive optics for imaging through aberrating media

Our facilities

  • Scanning Electron microscopy suite for analysis of hard and soft matter
  • Ultrafast Chemical Physics lab houses state-of-the-art femtosecond laser systems for multi-dimensional IR spectroscopy´╗┐. It opened in 2009 and was funded by the Faculty of Science, the University, and an S&I Award 
  • The Centre for Molecular Nanometrology, established in 2005
  • Access to Strathclyde's high-performance computing centre

Our research

We currently have approximately £7.3m in research grants from EPSRC, SFC, PPARC, EU, NERC, STFC, Royal Society, and Leverhulme Trust.

Biomolecular & Chemical Physics (BCP)

Research in the Biomolecular and Chemical Physics group focuses on using optical and computational methods to measure and understand the fundamental processes of life. 

Our team of academics use a range of spectroscopy and imaging techniques to seamlessly cover the full breadth of time and length scales that are essential to biological function. These range in from real-time studies of molecular-processes in enzymes or intermolecular interactions in cells up to organism-level imaging and oceanographic-remote sensing of algal populations. 

Our timescales range from femtosecond studies of molecular dynamics to decadal studies of natural biomass. Our aim is to enable deeper understanding of complex biological systems through quantitative physics approaches across this range of scales.

Our academics are: 

  • Neil Hunt - ultrafast 2D-IR spectroscopy of biomolecular interactions
  • Gail McConnell – new instrumentation & methods for biological microscopy & mesoscopy
  • David McKee – spectroscopic remote sensing
  • David Birch – interdisciplinary molecular research using time-resolved fluorescence
  • Yu Chen - molecular nanoprobe design
  • Brian Patton – adaptive optics-based super-resolution microscopy
  • Sebastian van de Linde – single molecule imaging
  • Olaf Rolinski – fluorescence resonance energy transfer sensors for structural, metal ion and metabolite detection
  • Oliver Henrich – mesoscopic and coarse-grained simulation methods for soft condensed matter
  • Maxim Fedorov – atomistic and molecular computational simulations 

Semiconductor Spectroscopy & Devices (SSD)

The Semiconductor Spectroscopy and Devices group combines studies of optical processes in advanced semiconductor materials and the realisation of practical optoelectronic devices. The group has an international reputation for optical and electron-beam micro-spectroscopy of semiconductors, in particular III-nitride compounds that are used for blue-green LED and laser displays.

Particular interests include:

  • Structural studies by electron diffraction (EBSD and ECCI)
  • Excitonic and plasmonic enhancements of light emission
  • Rare-earth doping for photonics
  • Computer modelling of plasmonic nanostructures, defects in semiconductors and semiconductor alloys
  • Ion-beam modified chalcogenides for solar-cell applications

The analysis of the structure, composition, and optical function of heterogeneous materials is achieved on a scale of nanometres by in-house electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) and hyperspectral imaging in the scanning electron microscope. The group also carries out computer modelling of defects in semiconductors and semiconductor alloys.


We focus on three areas of gravity-related research:

  • Novel non-interferometric enabling technologies for advanced gravitational wave (GW) detectors such as LIGO, VIRGO, and KAGRA
  • Gravity gradiometry
  • Gravitational modelling

Our researchers

The physics division has 14 academic members of staff (including five professors), 12 research staff, and some 25 PhD students.

Key academic staff include: