School of Physics and Astronomy

Search site

Our research strategy is built upon internationally leading activity

It covers the extremes of physics, from the very largest to the smallest possible scales.

We are interested in how gas and dust become stars and planets, spin and other properties of condensed matter, novel materials, complex fluids, properties of polymers and biological molecules, nanoparticles and the theory and practice of quantum physics on all scales down to those of the smallest particles.

Our research activity covers the following main areas;

  • Star and planetary system formation
  • Spintronics in condensed matter
  • Experimental biophysics and bio-nanoscience
  • Dynamics of polymers and complex fluids
  • Quantum information theory and its applications


In addition we are applying our collective expertise to the development of sustainable energy harvesting and storage, and towards translation into healthcare and medicine.

Research focus

Protein tug-of-war
Protein molecules curl up like tangled balls of string; to find out how they work, you have to unfold them. If they were balls of string, you would pull on each end - and that's exactly what Dr Lorna Dougan and her colleagues are doing here at Leeds, using atomic force microscopes. It's like a tug-of-war, but on a tiny scale: protein molecules need just a few hundred piconewtons to stretch them out to a few tens to hundreds of nanometres long.

Read more about our research


Research groups


Our research, with wider economic impact, includes the development of functionalised nano-materials for use in photo-voltaics and in the catalysis of methanol oxidation, the micro-bubble delivery of medication to cancerous tissue and quantum sensing applications for medical imaging.

Our research