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)

Our main focus is on the use of light to interrogate and understand the fundamental processes in nature. The group is made up of researchers interested in the building blocks of life such as molecules, proteins, nanoparticles or microorganisms, which have relevance from the molecular basis of health to life in the sea.

Our research entails the use of state-of-the-art optical physics techniques such as femtosecond laser spectroscopy, fluorescence studies of biomolecules, oceanographic remote sensing and the theory of molecular interactions.

Our research themes are:

  • Photophysics - the group uses molecular fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy to address interdisciplinary grand challenges at the biomedical interface that are relevant to metabolism and disease.
  • Ultrafast Dimensional Spectroscopy - the group looks at chemical and biological reactions. Their challenge is to perform experiments over a range of timescales (femtosecond to nanosecond and slower) on structures from the nanoscopic (e.g. molecular bonds) to the mesoscopic (e.g. molecular clusters to droplets).
  • Marine Optics and Remote Sensing - the group concentrates on the application of optical techniques for remote sensing and monitoring of environmental variables. These techniques have an increasing role to play in areas such as environmental protection, pollution assessment and the study of transient events in global ecosystems.
  • BCP Theory - the group is focused on understanding molecular-level effects at different kinds of solvation interfaces using computer modelling.
  • Nanobiophotonics´╗┐ - the group develops adaptive optics enhanced microscopes for imaging in living tissue. A key interest is the development of nanodiamond as a probe for neurobiology.

Find out more about the biomolecular and chemical physics group on their website.

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: