The group in October 2021. From L to R: Nacho Martin-Fabiani, Huyen Le, Ghazaleh Mazaheri Tehrani, Boshen He, Tim Murdoch, and James Tinkler.

Dr Nacho Martin-Fabiani (Group Leader)

Nacho was born and raised in Madrid, where he gained a Materials Physics BSc, a MSc on Polymer Science, and finally a PhD on polymer nanostructures in December 2013.

He headed to the UK to join the Department of Physics at the University of Surrey in 2014. There he spent two and a half years developing environmentally friendly coatings to protect steel from corrosion. During this time, he proved a self-assembly method in dispersions of large and small particles in water by which the small ones stratify in a layer above the large ones, enabling him to control the final architecture of the film. The work, published in Physical Review Letters, had extensive media coverage (more than 80 news outlets including the BBC) and kickstarted a new modelling and experimental field on stratification.

In 2016, he was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s fellowship at Loughborough University. Now his group is working on the self-assembly of polymer and composite colloids to obtain surfaces with various functionalities, e.g. antibacterial, abrasion resistant.

From 2020 he was appointed as a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, starting a 7-year project to exploit diffusion and self-assembly processes in colloidal dispersions for the development of soft products such as coatings, inks, or adhesives. Recently, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Materials Science.

Nacho has received several prestigious awards, including the Polymer Lecture Exchange Award by the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics and the Award for the Best PhD Thesis from the Spanish Association of Synchrotron Users (AUSE).

Dr Timothy Murdoch – Postdoctoral Research Associate

Tim grew up in Newcastle, Australia where he completed a B. E. (Hons.) in Chemical Engineering / B. Sc. in Chemistry. He stayed on to complete a PhD investigating specific ion effects on stimulus-responsive polymer brushes in 2018. His neutron reflectometry intensive project was supported by the by an Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering Post Graduate Research Award and his thesis received the Outstanding PhD Award from the Australian Neutron Beam Users Group in 2019.

In May 2018, Tim began a 2.5 year postdoc sponsored by Lubrizol at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. There, Tim utilised AFM and QCM-D measurements in combination with extensional rheology data to investigate the boundary lubricating mechanism of oil-soluble, associative polymers.

Tim joined the group in Jan 2021 and will be taking advantage of the recently acquired AFM-FLIM to study the underpinning mechanisms driving self-assembly in drying colloidal films.

Huyen Le – EPSRC sponsored PhD student

Huyen received her Integrated MChem Degree from University of Sussex in 2021. She gained industrial experience with GlaxoSmithKline as an undergraduate, working in roles such as New Product Development and Product Chemistry Scientist. Her dissertation work focused on nanoscience’s application in waste-water treatment. Co-supervised by Elisa Mele and Tao Sun, Huyen is undertaking a PhD in the group developing more efficient and environmentally friendly antibacterial coatings as well as more realistic protocols to test their performance.

James Tinkler – EPSRC sponsored PhD student

James graduated from Loughborough University in 2018 with an MEng in Materials Engineering. During his time at Loughborough, he conducted a summer research project, sponsored by BP, on stimuli responsive membranes for oil-water separation. James is now undertaking a PhD in the group in collaboration with Helen Willcock. He is studying the self-assembly of colloidal films, focusing specifically on the addition of functionalised silica nanoparticles to latex films.

Boshen He – EPSRC sponsored PhD student

After receiving a BSc in Polymer Materials and Engineering (Beijing University of Chemical Technology) and a MSc in Materials Science (Loughborough University), Boshen started his PhD to work on the computational modelling of binary colloidal systems. His project involves collaboration with Andrew Archer and Gyula Toth at the Mathematical Sciences Department.

Ghazaleh Mazaheri Tehrani – PhD student

Ghazaleh completed her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering (Biomaterials) in 2018 at Science and Research University in Iran. She then achieved her MSc degree from the University of Sheffield in Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine in 2020. Ghazaleh is undertaking her PhD in the group and her project involves the fabrication and understanding of liposomal systems as well as advancing state-of-the-art experimental techniques – such as AFM and FLIM – to characterize them. Her project is co-supervised by Guido Bolognesi from the department of Chemical Engineering.

Former group members

Dr Yichen Dong, PhD student (2017-2020).

Dr Paveena Tangudom, Visiting PhD student (2019-2020) from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand.

Dr Panupong Srimalanon, Visiting PhD student (2019-2020) from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand.

Dr Stavros Drakopoulos, PhD student (2016-2019), currently The Faraday Institution Research Fellow at University of Birmingham.