Molecular and Nanoscale Physics

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Physics & Astronomy

Dr Peter Adams

University Academic Fellow
BBSRC Future Leader Fellow

Molecular and Nanoscale Physics Group

Contact details

Room: 8.50aa
Tel: +44 (0)113 34 39718


Lipid membranes
Light-harvesting membrane proteins
Atomic force microscopy

Research interests

All biological cells, from bacteria to human epithelia, are surrounded by membranes comprised of lipids, proteins and other molecules. Biological cell membranes rely upon complex, hierarchical organization to elicit functional responses. To achieve specialized function some membranes form organized domains of protein proteins and multilamellar stacked arrangements, such as those found in the certain membranes involved in photosynthesis (“light-harvesting” membranes). My research aims to develop new artificial 3-D-organized stacked membranes inspired by chloroplast thylakoids. We take a multi-disciplinary approach combining aspects of surface chemistry, nano/micro fabrication, protein biochemistry, spectroscopy and various microscopies to fully explore these membranes.

Synthetic biology often uses genetic engineering or de novo chemical synthesis to develop minimal and/or modular systems of DNA, peptide sequences or organic molecules than can perform novel functions. My research uses purified LH proteins and natural lipids as building blocks to generate novel semi-synthetic systems. Long term goals include: (i) to mimic the natural stacked membrane systems to provide a controlled platform for understanding the assembly and biophysical properties of the membrane protein/lipids, (ii) to design new 3-D patterns of membranes onto solid surfaces with preservation of biological functionality, (iii) to build new bio/hybrid photonic devices. These controlled model membranes will act as a platform to test the factors influencing self-assembly, organisation and function in biological membranes, over multiple scales.

Various techniques are used to fully characterize the proteins, membranes and new devices from the micro- to the nanoscale. These include atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy fluorescence microscopy, spectroscopy, DLS, QCM, etc. We are always looking towards the latest, state-of-the-art technologies to enable the next breakthrough. Success in these efforts will represent a major advance in the controlled design of 3-D complex, functional biomaterials.

PhD and Postdoc opportunities

For postdoctoral opportunities and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Useful links

Adams group @Astbury Centre

Adams group @personal webpage