Research Themes


Atomic Force Microscopy

My group's primary tool is the atomic force microscope (AFM). We develop the technique and apply it to various forms of soft and biological matter. Recent developments include Torsional Tapping AFM (TTAFM), Torsional Resonance AFM in liquid, VideoAFM and large area high speed AFM.

Biological Physics

Many of the most exciting unanswered questions in Science lie in the area traditionally covered by the Life Sciences. Similarly, some of the greatest challenges facing our society, such as sustainability of food and energy supply, the threat of non-communicable diseases (e.g. cancer), and the emergence of antibiotic resistant pathogens (e.g. MRSA), will be solved through a better understanding of living systems. My group is part of the Physics of Life network and the Imagine project, working closely with biological and medical scientists to gain a better understanding of the dynamical behaviour, physical properties, and structural complexity of living systems.

Polymer Crystallization

Semi-crystalline polymers are ubiquitious in the modern world, and yet there are still significant and fundamental holes in our understanding of both the crystallization process and the complex structures that it forms. I have been researching in this area since the mid-1990s, with a particular emphasis on the application of AFM since 1999. I pioneered the use of in-situ AFM to follow the crystallization process in real time (see the videos for some data that is useful for teaching purposes), and more recently we have developed techniques for directly imaging polymer structure at the molecular scale.