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Chemistry and Forensics

Our research has applications across the pharmaceutical, agricultural and manufacturing industries and in healthcare, as well as informing standards of practice in teaching and policing.

Chemistry lab - student working


Research Contact: Carole Perry

Staff in the Department of Chemistry and Forensics undertake research on a diverse range of topics within the key areas of Analytical Chemistry, Forensic Science, Materials Chemistry, Pedagogy, Synthetic Chemistry and Theoretical and Computational Chemistry.

Our research has applications across the pharmaceutical, agricultural and manufacturing industries and in healthcare, as well as informing standards of practice in teaching and policing. We are also engaged with a number of interdisciplinary groups within the School of Science and Technology, advancing the frontiers of knowledge in areas aligned with our disciplines.

Research Areas

Analytical Chemistry at NTU includes both theoretical and applied research in areas such as Mass Spectrometry, the Analytical Toxicology of "new" psychoactive drugs, environmental analysis, and fundamental measurement science applied to chemistry. We have excellent instrumentation resources and expertise.

Contacts for the Analytical Chemistry group:  Dr Mike Coffey, Dr Quentin Hanley, Dr David Kilgour, and Dr Wing Li.

We also have Analytical Colleagues aligned to Forensic Science: Dr Muriel Funck.

The research of the Computational and Theoretical Chemistry group focuses on the development of novel theoretical approaches which are applied across a wide range of areas of chemistry, including MOFs, lipid membrane bilayers and characterisation of synthetic pathways. The group aligns with both A03 and B12.

Prof Carole Perry's research interests are in the in silico modelling of biomolecules at interfaces. She uses simulation data to calculate spectra (e.g. CD, FTIR and Raman) and determine binding energies for comparison with experimental data.
Dr Warren Cross's research involves the modelling of chemical reactions, especially organic chemistry transformations involving transition metal catalysis.
Dr Robinson's research is in the development and application of novel approaches to understanding electronically excited states of biologically relevant chromophores and fluorophores and how they can be used as probes of lipid membrane composition and phase detection in membranes.
Dr Addicoat's research is in the development and application of computational approaches to determine the structure and properties of combinatorially complex materials, in particular molecular framework materials (such as Metal Organic Frameworks and Covalent Organic Frameworks) and ionic liquids.
Contacts for the Computational and Theoretical Chemistry group: Dr David Robinson, Dr Matt Addicoat, Prof Carole Perry, Dr Warren Cross.

The Forensic Science group works in close partnership with police forces in England and Scotland in order to help solve targeted forensic questions, for example predicting where a body falling into a river will surface. They harness analytical chemistry techniques to identify unknown substances in criminal cases and to characterise potentially harmful impurities in products such as infant milk and drugs.

  • Dr Jennifer Miller's specialist consultancy and research areas are in problematic human remains recovery and stomach contents analysis as a tool to aid criminal investigation.
  • Research in the Funck lab aims to analyse forensic evidences as well as develop greener syntheses of novel materials with forensic applications.
  • Research in the Seetohul lab looks at post mortem distribution of molecules and the development of novel optical analytical techniques for the analysis of forensic samples.
  • Emma Rixon has worked in areas of glove mark and footwear mark analysis and recovery.

Contacts for the Forensic Science group : Dr Muriel Funck, Dr Jennifer Miller, Mr Andrew O'Hagen, Ms Emma Rixon.

Materials Chemistry at NTU includes both theoretical and applied research in areas such as electronic and photonic materials, bio-functional/derived and inspired materials, filler enhanced nanocomposites and multi-functional materials synthesis and properties.

  • Research in the Perry group takes inspiration from nature (biomimetics) in their study of the biomolecular-material interface.  They are developing materials for use in bone repair and the study of cancer. They are  active in the valorisation of materials from food waste.
  • Research in the Fitzpatrick group aims to synthesise smart switchable molecular materials. These switches range from utilising magnetic phenomena, such as spin crossover and single molecule magnets, for new paradigms of data storage to electrochemical switches for applications in clean energy, storage and sensing.
  • Research in the Martin group focuses on the synthesis of multifunctional materials which possess two or more physical properties in the same lattice with the aim of observing synergy between the properties. These materials exhibit properties which have the potential for application in a number of industries such as sensors, data storage, electroluminescent displays and information technology
  • Research activities in the group headed by Dr Volodkin focus on design of advanced stimuli-responsive 2D and 3D biomaterials for applications in drug delivery/testing, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine as well as other relevant applications where protection, localization in a confined space, and controlled release on demand are required.
  • Dr Smith's research is in material and surface science, focussing on the production of sustainable, functional coatings and characterising their electrochemical, physical and mechanical properties. She is particularly interested in applying this research to produce antimicrobial coatings for the healthcare industry.
  • Dr Puddu's research interest is in the design of photocatalytic materials for environmental remediation and solar technologies, with a focus on the study of physicochemical and interfacial properties and how they affect materials performance.
  • Dr. Gao's Group is focused on filler enhanced polymer nanocomposites for property enhancement and function creation. These properties include mechanical properties, barrier resistance, fire retardancy, dielectric behaviour, antimicrobial properties, stress sensitive materials, electric and thermal conduction,  thermal resistant ultra-light weight materials.
  • Dr Cave’s group is active in three interlinked areas: supramolecular chemistry, transport vehicles and green chemistry. They have links with a number of industrial partners for their development of novel nanoparticle carriers.
  • Dr Khene's research is focused on the synthesis and application of metallophthalocyanines as electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction.

Contacts for the Materials Chemistry group: Prof Carole Perry, Dr Fengge Gao, Dr Valeria Puddu, Dr Emma Smith, Dr Gareth Cave, Dr Lee Martin, Dr Dmitry Volodkin, Dr Anthony Fitzpatrick

Pedagogy – it’s all about effective learning. Dr Coffey is currently specialising in games-based learning and teaching sustainability in higher education whilst Dr Moss and her group look at the impact of technology on learning in general and  labs in particular, threshold concepts in science and also responsible research and innovation (RRI).

Contacts for the Pedagogy group: Dr Karen Moss, Dr Mike Coffey, Ms Emma Rixon

Synthetic Chemistry research at NTU ranges from the design of fundamental new molecules in order to study their properties, to the development of improved drugs, catalysts and building blocks for functional materials. We pursue new methodologies for the synthesis of organic, inorganic and organometallic molecules. There is substantial crossover with the materials science group, with novel materials being targeted using a bottom up approach; we also have significant interactions at the biological interface.

  • The Antonchick group concentrates on the synthesis of small molecules and their applications. In particular, we focus on developing new innovative chemical reaction methodologies.
  • Research in the Benjamin group aims to create, explore and exploit new inorganic molecules, from the study of fundamental bonding to the design of new catalysts, with a focus on the heavier elements of the p-block.
  • Research in the Cross group focuses on the invention and development of new methods for organic synthesis, with particular emphasis on metal-catalysed C-H activation reactions. They are developing new methods for late-stage C-H functionalization, especially the post-synthetic modification of peptides.
  • The Wallis group explores the synthesis of new organosulfur based conducting materials (including chiral ones), X-ray crystal structures of molecules with partially formed bonds, and the synthesis of biologically active molecules, in particular agents against cancer metastasis.
  • Garner group areas of research come broadly under the umbrella of organic synthetic chemistry and interests include P-chirogenic phosphorus chemistry and the directed fluorescent labelling of protein targets of biologically active molecules.
  • The Allin group have research interests in the development of novel anti-malarial agents and the development of new drugs and drug delivery systems for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
  • The Cave group are developing routes to novel materials for use at the physical-life sciences interface.

Contacts for the Synthetic Chemistry group: Prof John Wallis, Prof Steve Allin, Dr Warren Cross, Dr Chris Garner, Dr Ray Leslie, Dr Sophie Benjamin, Dr Anthony Fitzpatrick, Dr Gareth Cave.

The Nottingham BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme

You can apply for the Nottingham BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme as a training partnership with University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and the National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC). Find out how to apply here.