Research Themes
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Single-Molecule Sensing

  • Single-ion sensing

  • Surface reactions from low to high affinity 

  • Nanosecond time-resolution for whispering gallery mode resonators

  • Identifying a novel biomarker for apoptosis and cell death

  • Thermal characterization of biopolymers

  • Stand-off biodetection with asymmetric microsphere cavities

  • Photonic crystals: photo-luminescence enhancement 

  • Photonic crystals: free-space coupling with polarization tailored beam

Single Virus Detection and Analysis 

  • Single influenza A Virus detection from the reactive shift of a whispering gallery mode

  • World-leading sensing work on novel fundamental ways of detecting infectious disease particles including virions more rapidly, more sensitively and in minimal sample volumes, thereby providing maximum information by directly analysing individual virus particles

  • Developing our sensing technique further to provide sensor chips to help tackle infectious diseases

Image: “SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV) coronavirus main protease, with inhibitor in turquoise.”, by David S. Goodsell and RCSB PDB, is licensed under CC BY 4.0

UKRI Molecular Mechanics Initiative

  • Nanosensing and optical manipulation

  • Enzymology and structural characterization of proteins and their dynamics

  • Surface characterization and enzyme conjugation methods

  • Theoretical analysis of sensor signals using stochastic thermodynamics

  • Testing of enzyme-linked nanosensors for clinical diagnostics of fungal infections

Image: "Robot", by XVIVO Scientific Animation

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AI & Machine Learning for Opto-Molecular Systems

  • Ab initio methods for calculating many-electron interactions in opto-molecular systems

  • High through-put simulations on high performance computers

  • Using machine learning to predict the exchange-correlation functional (quantum interaction term) in density functional theory

  • Exporting the energy landscapes, binding energies and optical properties of single molecules interacting with the opto-plasmonic sensor

Smart Nanoparticles

  • Nanoparticle chemistries to tailor the capabilities of ‘smart’ single-molecule sensor devices

  • Synthetic strategies to control nanoparticle size, shape and composition

  • Exploring catalysis, surface chemistry, electrochemistry and biochemistry, all at the single-molecule level 

  • Studying reaction mechanisms which have been hidden from analysis, such as the disulphide exchange reaction.

  • Portable health and environmental monitors and smart dust sensors

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Ultrachiral

  • Measuring protein structures in-situ, in solution, at surfaces, and within cells and membranes 

  • Coupling to high performance liquid chromatography for chiral identification of components in complex mixtures

  • Analysis of chirality in bodily fluids as a diagnostic tool in medicine, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics

  • Measuring the chirality of single molecules by adapting chiral cavity-based polarimetry to microresonators 

  • Real-time chiral monitoring of terpene emissions from individual trees and forests, as a probe for forest ecology

Quantum Optical Biosciences

  • The Living Systems Institute in Exeter has the only dedicated quantum optical biosciences initiative in the world!

Prof Frank Vollmer

University of Exeter, Living Systems Institute

Exeter EX4 4QD, United Kingdom

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