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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
Illustration of confining light to nano-gaps with gold plasmon nanostructures

Creating and manipulating condensed matter through self- and directed-assembly on the nanoscale to create nano-systems with unusual properties opens up many new areas of science which are highly interdisciplinary.


DNA origami nanomachine assembling metal nanoparticles

These explore how atoms, molecules, inorganic components such as semiconductor/ metallic complex nanoparticles, and (bio)polymers, can be combined into nanostructures that have new functional properties when they confine and modify the behaviour of light, emitters, magnetism, charge and particle flow, dipoles, forces, spin, thermal, and other properties.

Improved function opens up high-impact basic science but also underpins the technologies of the future, holding the key to low-energy information technologies, healthcare sensing, sustainable materials, security, and the internet of things. This therefore combines discovery science with many application perspectives.


Cellulose nanorods assembled in roll-to-roll to give iridescent films

The theme is strongly interdisciplinary involving many collaborative research programmes with other Departments in the Schools of Physical Sciences, Technology and the Biological Sciences.

Some examples of the huge diversity of research and applications are given below.

Research areas:

  • Nanoscience and nanomachines
  • Nanophotonics of atoms, molecules and emitters
  • DNA nanotechnologies
  • Hollow fibres for photochemistry, sensing and nano-assembly
  • Microfluidic techniques and physics
  • Polymer and colloid science and nano-assembly
  • Functional materials
  • Nanopore sensing

Research Groups 

Baumberg group: nano-photonics, plasmonics and scalable nano-assembly

Eiser group: DNA-functionalized colloids, surfactants and (bio)polymers

Euser group: optofluidics and sensing with holey optical fibres

De Nijs group: photocatalysis and nanoplasmonics

Keyser group: nano transport processes through membranes

Knowles group: protein self-assembly, nanoscale machinery of life

Terentjev group: Liquid crystalline elastomers

Thorneywork group: soft matter and molecular fluctuations in transport