Skip to main content


Photo of Dr Peter  Petrov

Dr Peter Petrov

Senior Lecturer

 (Streatham) 4139

 01392 724139


My research interests are in the area of membrane biophysics, with emphasis on the relationships between membrane composition, mesoscopic lateral ordering, physical properties and biological function.

We use a wide range of techniques to investigate the elastic and electrical properties of plasma membrane and their modification in disease. In particular, we are interested in the effects of oxidative stress on membrane mechanics, since there is overwhelming evidence that oxidative stress contributes critically to the development and detrimental effects of many diseases, including major health threats such as diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, arthritis, and a number of age related conditions. This approach also allows us to assess the anti-oxidative potential of drugs.

Another area of research in our laboratory is the interaction between proteins and lipid bilayer membranes. We investigate how the membrane lateral microdomain organisation and viscoelastic and electrical properties are modified as a result of the interactions with various proteins, such as spectrin (a cytosekeltal protein), α-elastin (an elastic protein) and bacterial toxins. Along with colleagues from the Medical School, we also work on protein-membrane interactions for proteins involved in the process of apoptosis.

We were the first to establish the presence of long-range lateral order in the tear film lipid layer using Grazing Incidence X-ray Diffraction. This is a part of a wider project aimed at detailed understanding of the relations between the mesoscopic organisation and the functional performance of the pre-ocular tear film lipid layer, and how they depend on the molecular diversity found in the layer.

Much work is carried out on the use of nonlinear optical imaging techniques, such as Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS), Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) and Multiphoton Fluorescence (MF) to investigate protein-membrane interactions and uptake of fatty acids by cells.

One of my research interests outside the immediate area of membrane biophysics is the problem of swimming at low Reynolds numbers and the possibility to construct working prototypes of viscous swimmers.

Further details about my research projects can be found here.

Past Work

In the past, I have worked extensively on problems related to statics and dynamics of wetting, resulting in a new model for the velocity dependence of the dynamic contact angle capable of accounting for the full energy dissipation in the three-phase contact zone.

At the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, I was involved in a number of projects studying the coupling between chemical processes and membrane morphology, which allows to achieve control over the shapes of soft membranes by means of (photo)chemical reactions.

I also spent some time as a Research Associate at the Cavendish Laboratory, investigating the mechanical properties of liquid crystal colloids and surfactant mesophases.

Education and Employment

1984 - 1989 MSc in Chemical Physics and Theoretical Chemistry, University of Sofia, Bulgaria 

1989 - 1994 PhD in Physical Chemistry, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

1989 - 1993 Research Fellow III-II degree (equivalent to Lecturer), Central Laboratory of Mineral Processing, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

1993 - 1997 Research Fellow II-I degree (equivalent to Lecturer and Senior Lecturer), Institute of Biophysics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

1997 - 1999 Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, Golm, Germany

2000 - 2001 Research Associate, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge

2001 - 2006 Lecturer in Biomedical Physics, University of Exeter

since 2006 Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Physics, University of Exeter

Recent Research Grants

EPSRC: The impact of spectrin on membrane biophysics, £457k

DiabetesUK: Subcellular disposition of fatty acids in β-cells revealed by non-linear microscopy: insights into mechanisms of pancreatic β-cell lipotoxicity, £144k

DSTL: Effects of bacterial toxins on host cell membrane biophysics: biomarkers and targets for intervention, £382k

Recent Facilities Usage

STFC Diamond Light Source: The Structure of the Lipid Layer of the Pre-Occular Tear Film, 12 shifts

Contributions to the Community

Panel member on EPSRC Programme Grant Reviews

Back to top


Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1995 | 1993 | 1992 | 1991 |


  • Pearce B. (2023) Metasurfaces and Phononic Crystals for Manipulating Fluid Flow and Acoustics.






  • Kahve A. (2018) Biophysical and biochemical effects and distribution of fatty acids in pancreatic beta cells and microvascular endothelial cells.
  • Bokori-Brown M, Metz J, Petrov PG, Mussai F, De Santo C, Smart NJ, Saunders S, Knight B, Pastan I, Titball RW. (2018) Interactions Between Pseudomonas Immunotoxins and the Plasma Membrane: Implications for CAT-8015 Immunotoxin Therapy, FRONTIERS IN ONCOLOGY, volume 8, article no. ARTN 553, DOI:10.3389/fonc.2018.00553. [PDF]
  • Hamilton J, Petrov P, Gilbert A, Ogrin F. (2018) Torque driven ferromagnetic swimmers, Physics of Fluids, volume 30, pages 092001-092001, DOI:10.1063/1.5046360.
  • Kahve AMS, Green EM, Whatmore JL, Petrov PG, Winlove CP, Morgan NG. (2018) Use of Raman spectroscopy as a novel means to study lipid deposition and composition in cultured beta cells following exposure to exogenous fatty acids, DIABETIC MEDICINE, volume 35, pages 41-41. [PDF]


  • Lechner B-D, Trick JL, Lorenz CD, Winlove P, Petrov PG. (2017) Mesoscale structure of lipid monolayers mimicking red blood cell membranes, EUROPEAN BIOPHYSICS JOURNAL WITH BIOPHYSICS LETTERS, volume 46, pages S305-S305. [PDF]
  • Kahve AMS, Richardson SJ, Petrov PG, Whatmore JL, Winlove CP, Morgan NG. (2017) Investigating beta cell and endothelial cell responses to fatty acids, DIABETIC MEDICINE, volume 34, pages 74-75. [PDF]
  • Hamilton JK, Petrov PG, Winlove CP, Gilbert AD, Bryan MT, Ogrin FY. (2017) Magnetically controlled ferromagnetic swimmers, Sci Rep, volume 7, DOI:10.1038/srep44142. [PDF]
  • Bryan MT, Shelley SR, Parish MJ, Petrov PG, Winlove CP, Gilbert AD, Ogrin FY. (2017) Emergent propagation modes of ferromagnetic swimmers in constrained geometries, Journal of Applied Physics, volume 121, no. 7, DOI:10.1063/1.4976103.





  • Smallwood MJ, Jewell SA, Petrov PG, Winlove CP, Eggleton P, Winyard PG. (2012) The role of phosphatidylserine externalisation and oxidation in C1q-dependent apoptotic cell clearance, Usa, Free Radical Biology and Medicine, volume 53, no. 1.
  • Gilbert AD, Ogrin FY, Petrov PG, Winlove CP. (2012) THEORY OF FERROMAGNETIC MICROSWIMMERS (vol 64, pg 239, 2011), QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF MECHANICS AND APPLIED MATHEMATICS, volume 65, no. 1, pages 181-181, DOI:10.1093/qjmam/hbr024. [PDF]


  • Gilbert AD, Ogrin FY, Petrov PG, Winlove CP. (2011) Motion and mixing for multiple ferromagnetic microswimmers, European Physical Journal E, volume 34, article no. 121.
  • Hale JP, Winlove CP, Petrov PG. (2011) Effect of hydroperoxides on red blood cell membrane mechanical properties, Biophysical Journal, volume 101, no. 8, pages 1921-1929.
  • Gilbert AD, Ogrin FY, Petrov PG, Winlove CP. (2011) Theory of ferromagnetic microswimmers, The Quarterly Journal of Mechanics and Applied Mathematics, volume 64, no. 3, pages 239-263.



  • Ogrin FY, Petrov PG, Winlove CP. (2009) Ogrin, Petrov, and winlove reply:, Physical Review Letters, volume 103, no. 19, DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.199802.
  • Ogrin FY, Petrov PG, Winlove CP. (2009) Comment on "Ferromagnetic Microswimmers" - Reply, PHYS REV LETT, volume 103, no. 19, article no. 199802, DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.199802. [PDF]
  • Hale JP, Marcelli G, Parker KH, Winlove CP, Petrov PG. (2009) Red blood cell thermal fluctuations: comparison between experiment and molecular dynamics simulations, Soft Matter, volume 5, pages 3603-3606.









  • Petrov PG, Döbereiner HG. (2000) Light-induced shape transitions of giant vesicles, Giant Vesicles, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 335-339.






  • Petrov PG, Petrov JG. (1993) Transition between steady dewetting and dynamic formation of a liquid film, First World Congress on Emulsion, Paris, France, 19th - 22nd Oct 1993, Congress Proceedings, pages 2-10/116-2-10/116/06.



Back to top