Current projects

Green synthesis of bioinspired nanomaterials: This EPSRC sponsored project combines the expertise of researchers across three universities (Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Newcastle). At Edinburgh we (myself and Dr Timm Kruger) are investigating the mechanism for formation of bioinspired 'green' silica materials. Probably, this involves the formation of giant (SALR - see below) amine clusters in aqueous solution as templates on which the silica nanoparticles are grown. Dr Timm Kruger, a colleague here at Edinburgh, is investigating the growth of procursor structures using Lattice Boltmann techniques. The lead investigator at Sheffield is Prof. Siddharth Patwardhan.

SALR fluids: Fluids with competing attractive short-range and repulsive long-range interactions (SALR) display very rich behaviour, which we are only now uncovering. They are considered to be a suitable model for many soft/bio systems ranging from biomolecular solutions through to colloidal dispersions and sterically stabilised nanoparticles. With colleagues in the University of Strathclyde Dr Leo Lue we have developed a novel thermodynamic model able to treat the low density phase behaviour of these systems, revealing micelle-like behaviour and new phase transitions. Recent work shows how SALR clusters can grow and 'reproduce' like biological cells, which supports the view they are important in cell biology (and, perhaps, even the origin of life). Ongoing work aims to understand the behaviour of SALR mixtures, including SALR mixtures at surfaces.

Free energy calculation methods: We have developed a quite general approach to calculating the free energy of solids and fluids from Monte Carlo molecular simulations. This work has helped to understand how apparently different free energy methods are related, and among other things it could provide an opportunity to study crystallisation of framework materials and of fluids under confinement.

wetting layer absorption
polymer-platelet nanocomposites
novel free energy methods