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Metamaterials for healthcare and biomedical applications

From antibiotic therapy and targeted drug delivery to cancer detection and novel microscopy techniques

Modern society continues to face serious challenges in the healthcare and biotechnology sector, such as antibiotic resistance, cancer, and severe side effects of drug treatments. Metamaterials can address these challenges, using cross-disciplinary research expertise in hydrodynamics, microfluidics, mechanics, spectroscopy, electromagnetism, and (THz) imaging.

For example, we study

  • how the fundamental diversity in the capability to take up molecules in bacteria can help us develop guidelines for the optimisation of antibiotic therapy in killing infecting bacteria;
  • how magnetic metamaterials can help us create microscopic machines that would be able to mimic micro-organisms which could revolutionise a range of practices used in medicine and biotechnology (e.g. targeted drug delivery);
  • how we can advance the development and applications of Brillouin microscopy as a novel optical technique within biophotonics and the clinical environment;
  • how to use THz imaging to quickly take accurate high resolution images of breast tissue in the operating theatre, showing the exact boundaries where healthy and cancerous tissue meet, should greatly enhance the accuracy of breast cancer surgery and reduce the need for repeat procedures;
  • how to develop sensor systems that enable detection and analysis of molecules on miniature devices ('lab on a chip');
  • the fundamental physics of acoustic, thermal and electrical transport both within materials and across interfaces between materials to investigate the ways in which these properties are used in biological systems, including biomimetics, thermoregulation in insects and electrical signalling in plants and animals;
  • the development of textile-based wearable electronics as an emerging technology with potential to enable the imperceptible integration of electronics with the human body.

If you have any questions or ideas to explore, don't hesitate to get in touch:


Prof Janet Anders: Quantum thermodynamics: nano-machines; data storage; computation and communication; diagnostic healthcare
Prof Monica Craciun: Optoelectronic materials and devices; quantum phenomena; nanoelectronics
Dr Alex Corbett: Fluorescence microscopy; medical imaging
Prof Euan Hendry: THz materials, imaging and spectroscopy; nonlinear optics
Prof Robert Hicken: Novel microscopy technique for studying magnetic hyperthermia as a cancer treatment
Prof Geoff Nash: Infrared sources; detectors and spectroscopy; surface acoustic wave devices
Dr Ana Neves: Wearable technologies; graphene; 2D Materials
Prof Feodor Ogrin: Bio-inspired magnetic systems
Dr Stefano Pagliara: Membrane transport in antibiotic resistance
Prof Francesca Palombo: Biophotonics and biomechanics; mechanical properties of metamaterials
Dr. Peter Petrov: Membrance biophysics; nonlinear optical imaging techniques
Prof Nick Stone: Biomedical spectroscopy; light-based diagnostics and therapeutics
Dr Nikita Toropov: Optical sensors
Prof Frank Vollmer: Single-molecule biosensors