Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas, MInstP CPhys


Personal profile


Postgraduate Opportunities

Information about possible PhD studentships can be found in the School of Materials can be found on our website at


Social responsibility


Dr. Thomas is heavily involved in outreach and has undertaken a great deal of Schools and public outreach work including lectures and demonstrations for schools, colleges adult education centres, the Institute of Physics and Manchester Science Festival to name a few. His lectures have included the flash bang show, "Physics and Chemistry, More Magic than Harry Potter", "On the Face of it: Surfaces in Chemistry, Materials and Medicine" and "Filling up on Sunshine: Energy from Sunlight". He was part of a team from the University of Manchester who manned a stand on generating fuel from sunlight at the 2011 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, for which he made the video "How to make a Berry Solar Cell" on YouTube. He has worked on stands at three Jodrell Live events as well as numerous other schools and college events. He has also been a partner scientist in two Royal Society Partnership projects; the first, "Gases Galore", with St. Paul's School in Stalybridge, focused on  pollutant gases and how they can affect breathing. The second with Broadbent Fold School in Dukinfield was entitled, "Light for Life", and involved the children trying to determine whether simple digital photography could be used to measure blood flow as well as introducing children from Year 1 to year 6 to concepts associated with light and imaging.

My group

My group

Nanoscience at surfaces

Functionalisation and characterisation of surfaces and interfaces relevant to solar energy, biomaterials, corrosion and protection, novel electronic materials.

Other research

Research Institutes



Dr Andrew Thomas is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Materials and is based in the Photon Science Institute. Having graduated in Chemistry from the University of Manchester, he then obtained an MSc in Instrumentation and Analytical Science from UMIST in 1990. He obtained his PhD with his thesis, "Adsorbate Studies of Titanium Oxides", from the University of Liverpool in 1994. Following postdoctoral researcher positions in Chemistry and Physics at UMIST, he was made a Research Fellow in Physics at UMIST in 1999. He contiuned in this role until 2014 when he transferred to the School of Materials as a member of the Biomaterials, Functional Materials and Corrosion and Protection groups.


He was Secretary of the Thin Films and Surfaces group of the Institute of Physics (IOP) from 2013 - 2017, and was a member to the Groups Committee of the IOP until October 2018. He remained a member of the Thin Films and Surfaces Committee until 2021. He is an ejected member of the Diamond Light Source User Committee,  representing the Surfaces and Interfaces community. 

He was a co-founder of the UK based Network, Surface Science of Biological Important Interfaces in 2000 abs with EU funding organised and chaired the first "Biological Surfaces and Interfaces", European Conference at Castelvecchio Pascoli in Italy, and was involved in organising the 2005 and 2007 meetings.

He has acted as guest editor for special issues of Journal of Physics:Condensed Matter on Surface Science f Biologically Important Interfaces in 2005 and an issue on Near Ambient Pressure X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy in 2018.

Research interests

Current research interests lie in the interaction of organic molecules with oxide, metal and semiconductor surfaces, with relevance to diverse areas of research including, biomaterials, catalysis, corrosion, novel photovoltaics and artificial photosynthesis. The work aims to characterise and understand the fundamental processes occurring at a surface, which in turn governs the functionality of a material.

In the area of biomaterials he has worked with a world leading dental implant manufacturer to elucidate the mechanisms involved in healing following implantation and why seemingly similar surface treatments lead to changes in healing rates. An understanding of how surface chemical and physical structure affects healing can lead to improved healing with societal benefits, in terms of cheaper, more widely available implants, particularly in older patients where tooth loss is more likely but healing is generally slower. Currenty he is looking at the effect of surface chemistry on the adsorption of small biomlecules such as amino acids and peptides using (in situ) X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and sun-frequency spectroscopy. This work aims to deduce whether the surface chemistry of the implant and the method of binding of peptides on the surface has an impact on the healing after implantation. In addition, peptide interactions with materials is important in protein therapeutics where denaturation can occur and have negative impact on the drug, and potentiallyon patients. 

With regard to photovoltaic materials and artificial photosynthesis, work focuses on the characterisation of novel materials and how charge transfer between light-harvesting species and semiconductor substrates could be enhanced. To study these materials and processes he has been awarded time at European synchrotron sources including: Daresbury (now closed) and Diamond, UK, Elettra, Italy, Lure (now closed) and Soleil, France, Astrid, Denmark and MaxLab, Sweden. He has also been awarded time at other UK laser and photoelectron spectroscopy national facilities. In Manchester he has been instrumental in the set up of sum-frequency spectroscopy instrumentation in the Photon Science Institute (PSI), with Dr. Rob Lindsay of the Corrosion Protection group. He has also been involved in the commissioning of a new £1.2 million near-ambient X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy instrument in the PSI. He was also co-investigator on asuccessful  £2 million bid to the Sir Henry Royce Institute for a new combined high-through X-ray and hard X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy instrument.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Adsorbate Studies of Titanium Oxides, University of Liverpool

1 Oct 199030 Sept 1994

Award Date: 1 Dec 1994

External positions

Member of Thin Films and Surfaces Group Committee member, The Institute of Physics

1 Oct 201730 Sept 2021

Surfaces and Interfaces representative Diamond User Committee, Diamond Light Source Ltd

1 Mar 201728 Feb 2021

Member of the Groups Committee, Institute of Physics

1 Oct 201430 Sept 2018

Secretary of Thin Films and Surfaces Committee, Institute of Physics

1 Oct 201330 Sept 2017

Areas of expertise

  • QD Chemistry
  • Surface analysis
  • nanomaterials
  • Adsorption
  • Surface reactions
  • catalysis
  • 2D materials
  • Surface Science
  • biomaterials
  • corrosion
  • solar energy
  • QC Physics
  • electronic structure
  • condensed matter

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Energy
  • Energy
  • Manchester Regenerative Medicine Network
  • Photon Science Institute


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