Current research interests lie in the interaction of organic molecules with oxide, metal and semiconductor surfaces, with relevance to diverse areas of research including, biomaterials, catalysis, corrosion, novel photovoltaics and artificial photosynthesis. The work aims to characterise and understand the fundamental processes occurring at a surface, which in turn governs the functionality of a material.
In the area of biomaterials he has worked with a world leading dental implant manufacturer to elucidate the mechanisms involved in healing following implantation and why seemingly similar surface treatments lead to changes in healing rates. An understanding of how surface chemical and physical structure affects healing can lead to improved healing with societal benefits, in terms of cheaper, more widely available implants, particularly in older patients where tooth loss is more likely but healing is generally slower. Currenty he is looking at the effect of surface chemistry on the adsorption of small biomlecules such as amino acids and peptides using (in situ) X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and sun-frequency spectroscopy. This work aims to deduce whether the surface chemistry of the implant and the method of binding of peptides on the surface has an impact on the healing after implantation. In addition, peptide interactions with materials is important in protein therapeutics where denaturation can occur and have negative impact on the drug, and potentiallyon patients.
With regard to photovoltaic materials and artificial photosynthesis, work focuses on the characterisation of novel materials and how charge transfer between light-harvesting species and semiconductor substrates could be enhanced. To study these materials and processes he has been awarded time at European synchrotron sources including: Daresbury (now closed) and Diamond, UK, Elettra, Italy, Lure (now closed) and Soleil, France, Astrid, Denmark and MaxLab, Sweden. He has also been awarded time at other UK laser and photoelectron spectroscopy national facilities. In Manchester he has been instrumental in the set up of sum-frequency spectroscopy instrumentation in the Photon Science Institute (PSI), with Dr. Rob Lindsay of the Corrosion Protection group. He has also been involved in the commissioning of a new £1.2 million near-ambient X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy instrument in the PSI. He was also co-investigator on asuccessful £2 million bid to the Sir Henry Royce Institute for a new combined high-through X-ray and hard X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy instrument.