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Dr Alastair Wark


Pure and Applied Chemistry

Personal statement

Alastair Wark started his career with a BSc in Applied Chemistry in 1996 at the University of Strathclyde. He completed his PhD research in 2000 under the joint supervision of Dr Len Berlouis and Dr Frank Cruikshank at Strathclyde and also working with Prof. Pierre-Francois Brevet at the EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland. Following post-doctoral research at EPFL he was awarded a Lindemann Trust Fellowship in 2001and joined the laboratories of Prof. Rob Corn at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After moving across to the University of California-Irvine with Rob’s group and a Project Scientist position, Alastair returned to the Chemistry Department in late 2007 as a Lecturer in Nanometrology.


Tandem femto- and nanomolar analysis of two protein biomarkers in plasma on a single mixed antibody monolayer surface using surface plasmon resonance
Kim Suhee, Park Jeong Won, Wark Alastair W., Jhung Sung Hwa, Lee Hye Jin
Analytical Chemistry Vol 89, pp. 12562-12568, (2017)
Novel complexing additives to reduce the immiscible phase formed in the hybrid ZnBr2 flow battery
Bryans Declan, McMillan Brian, Spicer Mark, Wark Alastair, Berlouis Leonard
Journal of the Electrochemical Society Vol 164, (2017)
Gold suprashells : enhanced photothermal nanoheaters with multiple LSPR for broadband SERS
Paterson Sureyya, Thompson Sebastian A., Wark Alastair W., de la Rica Roberto
Journal of Physical Chemistry C Vol 121, pp. 7404-7411, (2017)
Light-triggered inactivation of enzymes with photothermal nanoheaters
Thompson Sebastian A., Paterson Sureyya, Azab Marwa M. M., Wark Alastair W., de la Rica Roberto
Small, (2017)
Gel electrophoretic analysis of differently shaped interacting and non-interacting bioconjugated nanoparticles
Kim Suhee, Wark Alastair W., Lee Hye Jin
RSC Advances Vol 6, pp. 109613-109619, (2016)
Time-lapse measurement of single-cell response to nanomaterial : a microfluidic approach
Cunha-Matos C. A., Millington O. M., Wark A. W., Zagnoni M.
20th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences (MicroTAS 2016), pp. 377-378, (2016)

more publications

Research interests

My research focus is based around the synthesis, functionalization and analytical applications of novel nanomaterials alongside the development of techniques capable of optically imaging and tracking single nanoparticles and molecules.  The advantages of these materials for nanometrology and bioanalytical science is that optical measurements can be performed to monitor biomolecular interactions in real-time. As well as developing robust methodologies for ultrasensitive bioaffinity detection at target concentrations approaching just a few molecules, we are also exploring the use of multimodal imaging techniques for monitoring nanoparticle-cellular interactions. This involves developing hybrid nanostructures which can be used for tackling research challenges requiring dynamic measurements in complex biological environments. Consequently, my research is highly multidisciplinary and I have enjoyed successfully collaborating with researchers from across the biology, physics, engineering and medicine research fields.

Professional activities

12th West of Scotland Meeting for Teachers of Chemistry
PittCon 2012
11th West of Scotland Meeting for Teachers in Chemistry
Nano Meets Spectroscopy
10th West of Scotland Meeting for Teachers of Chemistry

more professional activities


Doctoral Training Grant 2010 | Caldwell, Evelyn
Berlouis, Leonard (Principal Investigator) Wark, Alastair (Co-investigator) Caldwell, Evelyn (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2010 - 01-Apr-2014
Nanoanalysis for Advanced Materials and Healthcare - EPSRC strategic equipment
Martin, Robert (Principal Investigator) Edwards, Paul (Co-investigator) Faulds, Karen (Co-investigator) Florence, Alastair (Co-investigator) Graham, Duncan (Co-investigator) Sefcik, Jan (Co-investigator) Ter Horst, Joop (Co-investigator) Trager-Cowan, Carol (Co-investigator) Uttamchandani, Deepak (Co-investigator) Wark, Alastair (Co-investigator)
This proposal seeks funding to deliver enhanced capability for characterising and assessing advanced nanomaterials using three complementary, leading edge techniques: Field-emission microprobe (EPMA), combined Raman/multiphoton confocal microscope (Raman/MP) and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). This suite of equipment will be used to generate a step-change in nanoanalysis capability for a multi-disciplinary team of researchers who together form a key part of Strathclyde's new Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC). The equipment will support an extensive research portfolio with an emphasis on functional materials and healthcare applications. The requested equipment suite will enable Strathclyde and other UK academics to partner with other world-leading groups having complementary analytical facilities, thereby creating an international collaborative network of non-duplicated facilities for trans-national access. Moreover the equipment will generate new research opportunities in advanced materials science in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory, UK industry and academia.
Period 08-Nov-2015 - 07-Nov-2019
Optical and Magnetic Non-Invasive Flow and manipulation platform for controlling nanomanufacture of pharmaceuticals, nanoparticles, and other nanostructured materials
Haw, Mark (Principal Investigator) Wilson, Clive (Co-investigator) Zagnoni, Michele (Co-investigator) Wark, Alastair (Co-investigator)
micromanipulation non-invasively in nanomaterial manufacture processes, to enhance direct control of nucleation, growth and structure development. Nucleation and assembly are the first stage of engineering nanostructured materials in applications including drug crystallisation, nanoparticle and nanoporous catalyst manufacture, and metal-organic frameworks for molecular storage. There is significant evidence that these complex microscale nucleation and assembly processes are strongly affected by local conditions such as flow. Our understanding of how flow and local (at the micron-scale) forces affect and thus could be used to control nanostructure nucleation is limited, because nucleation is inherently a local process while flow and external forces are usually applied globally. Therefore our novel, versatile OMNIFlow experimental platform will non-invasively impose local micron-scale flows by manipulating optically and magnetically trapped particles, generating local flow fields in the nucleating or assembling suspension. The project brings together Strathclyde expertise in microfluidics, optical and magnetic manipulation and quantitative dynamic microscopy, and focusses on applications in the key Strathclyde research strength of advanced nanomaterial engineering and science for innovative industrial applications. It will provide a unique experimental platform to highlight Strathclyde’s developing central role in this area.
Period 01-Jul-2013 - 02-Dec-2013
Investigating vaccine delivery via high-throughput nanoparticle-enhanced cell imaging
Zagnoni, Michele (Co-investigator) Wark, Alastair (Co-investigator)
EPSRC BTG project
Period 02-Jan-2012 - 30-Jun-2012
University Of Strathclyde - Equipment Account
Gachagan, Anthony (Principal Investigator) He, Wenlong (Principal Investigator) Jaroszynski, Dino (Principal Investigator) Martin, Robert (Principal Investigator) McArthur, Stephen (Principal Investigator) McArthur, Stephen (Principal Investigator) Connolly, Patricia (Co-investigator) Edwards, Paul (Co-investigator) Faulds, Karen (Co-investigator) Florence, Alastair (Co-investigator) Graham, Duncan (Co-investigator) Leithead, William (Co-investigator) Sefcik, Jan (Co-investigator) Ter Horst, Joop (Co-investigator) Trager-Cowan, Carol (Co-investigator) Uttamchandani, Deepak (Co-investigator) Wark, Alastair (Co-investigator)
"We propose to undertake an essential and cost effective upgrade of an existing high-power femtosecond laser system at Strathclyde to increase its output power, improve its stability and provide it with the necessary beam control and diagnostics systems to evaluate its performance and control (adjust) several important output beam parameters. The upgrade comprises a cryogenic cooler, to improve the power dissipation and thermal stability of the final laser amplifier Ti:sapphire crystal, a high-energy pump laser for the final amplifier, a wavefront sensor and deformable mirror system, to measure and control the wavefront phase, and an integrated 3rd-order cross-correlator, to measure the laser pulse contrast. The diagnostic systems are necessary to optimise the laser parameters and achieve the desired properties at focus. The cryo-cooler allows cooling of the final amplifier crystal to be increased from 28 W to 80 W, which enables the output power of the laser to be increased to 40 TW using the new high-energy pump laser. The upgraded will improve stability, increase intensity and shorten set-up and alignment times, thus increasing the usable time of the laser system to allow better use of the system and the beamline facilities at Strathclyde. The upgraded laser will be used to deliver the objectives of a Critical Mass proposal (submitted simultaneously) that is part of the ALPHA-X project, which involves 5 universities (Strathclyde, Glasgow, St Andrews, Dundee & Lancaster), and external Collaborators. The research programme includes a study of collective radiation-beam-plasma interactions at high field intensities, the production of ultra-short duration high brightness particle beams from the laser-plasma wakefield accelerator (LWFA), development of new methods of producing coherent and incoherent radiation, and applications of the sources. The applications programme involves an investigation of using high energy electrons for radiotherapy and also methods to produce medical radio-isotopes for medical imaging. The facility will also be used as a platform for engaging with industry through proof-of-concept projects. The upgraded facilities will be transferred to the SUPA Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA) when the facility has been constructed."
Period 01-Nov-2014 - 28-Feb-2023
Bioaffinity detection and tracking of disease biomarkers via dynamic multi modal surface plasmon enhanced nanoscopy
Wark, Alastair (Principal Investigator)
The ability to directly monitor biomolecular interactions (e.g. DNA-DNA, RNA-DNA, protein-protein) in real-time is of great importance to many areas of biology and medicine. At the cellular level, very few molecules can be responsible for inducing a significant biological response and there remains an urgent need for highly sensitive optical methods able to both identify and spatially track multiple target biomolecules simultaneously in complex and dynamic biological environments. To address this challenge we propose to develop a unique multi-imaging platform capable of monitoring large numbers of individual, freely moving nanoparticles and monitoring their interactions with target molecules and other nanoparticles. This new technology will initially be applied to the multiplexed detection of microRNAs with the distinct advantage of not requiring either target pre-modification or subsequent amplification steps to achieve the sensitivities necessary for the direct analysis of genomic RNA samples. The research takes advantage of the electronic properties of metallic nanoparticles that are associated with greatly enhancing the intensity of various types of spectroscopic signals such as scattering, Raman and fluorescence. These signals are highly responsive to changes in the immediate environment around each nanoparticle with Raman in particular providing a molecular fingerprint useful for identification. However, typical investigations involve applying only one of these spectroscopic modalities and either looking at select individual particles immobilised on a surface or acquiring an ensemble-averaged spectrum of the bulk sample. Imaging is a particularly powerful and intuitive approach for investigating complex systems. The radically different multi-spectroscopic methodology proposed here enabling the high-throughput visualisation of individual particles along with rapid optical discrimination between different particles sizes and clusters is expected to have a far-reaching impact. In addition to creating a powerful tool for bioanalytical investigation, this research will open up significant new opportunities to physicists, chemists and engineers interested in the functionalisation and assembly of nanoparticles to create next generation materials and devices.
Period 01-Feb-2010 - 30-Apr-2012

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Pure and Applied Chemistry
Technology Innovation Centre

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