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In the Department of Natural Sciences, through our staff's personal commitment to research, we aim at achieving excellence in science and technology that contributes to the well-being of society. Via our inter-disciplinary approach to research, our Department provides a creative and supportive academic environment in which new ideas are created and flourish.

The excellence and diversity of our research in Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biotechnology is reflected in scientific articles published in high-impact journals, research visits in the UK and abroad as well as collaboration with industrial partners across a range of disciplines. Our academic vision reflects our strategy to achieve excellence in research in order to keep within the UK’s research base and contribute to frontier research, promoting industrial partnerships and catalysing innovation.

Our students benefit from high-quality, up-to-date scientific knowledge offered to them by our specialist, research-active tutors. All out undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as any short courses offered by the University of Chester are linked to research informed and industry engaged teaching.

The Department of Natural Sciences is also linked to the new Energy Centre at Thornton, which is a state-of-the-art facility designed to promote growth and acceleration in the development and exploitation of technologies for the energy market. The Energy Centre provides a motivating environment where industry and academia come together to innovate and develop new intelligent technologies in the energy sector.

Below you may browse several scientific areas that our members of staff are pursuing scientific research in. We are always open to inter-disciplinary work with academic/industrial partners in the UK and abroad.

Microscopy, Microanalysis and Surface Science

Prof Graham Smith

We use advanced X-ray and electron beam techniques to study the properties of novel materials and devices. Our aim is to be able to understand the relationships between the micro- or nano-scale structure and chemistry of materials, and their performance in novel devices and applications. Recent work includes studies of low-dimensional materials, organic photovoltaics, biofilms, and laser-modified surface

Thornton Air Lab

Dr Gavin Phillips

At the Air Lab we study the chemistry and physics that controls the composition of the air we breathe every day. We use state of the art instrumentation to analyse air pollution and develop a deeper understanding of what we can do to make our atmospheric environment a cleaner and safer place to live. Current projects focus on the effect of biological volatiles on indoor atmosphere, the application of small sensor systems to air quality management, and measurement of particulate matter from indoor activities and vehicles.

Platinum Group Compounds for the Treatment of Cancer

Dr Gabriele Wagner

The main purpose of our research is the development of more efficient and selective drugs for the treatment of cancer. To achieve this aim, we use an interdisciplinary approach where computational design of new compounds is followed by their chemical synthesis and in vitro bioassays to test for biological activity and mode of action.

Nanoscale Optoelectronics Device Modelling

Dr Theodoros Papadopoulos

Using a combination of atomistic computational methods, we model the electronic structure of materials, from individual molecules to surfaces, as well as charge transport in thin films, and interfaces. Our aim is to investigate nanoscale phenomena related to (i) the electronic properties of surfaces in the presence of defects and impurities, (ii) charge transfer at organic/inorganic interfaces, and (iii) charge and exciton transport properties in organic thin films. In terms of applications, our research is relevant to optoelectronic devices such as Organic Photovoltaics (OPVs), Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs), and Organic Field Effect Transistors (OFETs).

Electrochemical Processes

Dr Bob Smith and Dr David Ward

We investigate a range of fundamental and applied electrochemical processes. In our "Energy Solutions" laboratory we study conventional PEM fuel cells, redox flow batteries and fuel cell/flow battery hybrids, making the facilities globally unique. We also have an electrochemistry laboratory dedicated to fundamental research and sensor development.

Inorganic Materials

Dr Andrew Fogg

Our research is focussed on the synthesis and characterisation of inorganic and organic materials and the application of these techniques and processes to extracting and/or separating waste material. A wide range of synthetic techniques are used including digestion, precipitation, crystallisation, ion exchange to produce materials which can be used in areas including medicine, catalysis, construction and fuels.

Smart Materials

Dr Gavin Hazell

We primarily use soft matter and surface chemistry techniques to generate functional materials for use in a wide range of applications. We focus on the self-assembly of materials in solution and at interfaces to generate compounds that can be used to purify water and surfaces that are able to kill bacteria upon contact.

Drug Design and Discovery

Dr Noha Ziedan

Our research focuses on the design and synthesis of novel small organic molecules as biologically active drug candidates to combat diseases with primary interest in cancer drug discovery. We target proteins that are overexpressed in disease conditions to design selective inhibitors that can either compete with the natural binder or to act as non-competitive inhibitors. We apply interdisciplinary approach using molecular modelling, organic synthesis, biological testing and crystallography.

Water Treatment

Dr David Ward

Research activity centres upon the purification of water and wastewater for either process or environmental advantage.   Areas of current investigation include, microbubble generation, gas-liquid mass transfer and reactions, accelerated microbubble coalescence, hot gas ammonia stripping, surface run-off purification using ion exchange, ozone water treatment and vortex media bed filtration.