... understanding life in molecular detail

Dr Peter Adams

Bionanophysics, Lipid membranes, Photosynthesis, Light-harvesting membrane proteins

My research investigates membrane protein and lipid assembly, with a focus on the specialized membranes involved in photosynthesis. I wish to understand, mimic and control the organization of semi-synthetic membranes, inspired by chloroplasts light-harvesting membranes. I take a multi-disciplinary approach, including biochemistry, spectroscopy, nano/micro-fabrication and various microscopies (AFM, EM, fluorescence).

PhD and Postdoc opportunities

For postdoctoral opportunities and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.


Current major projects include:
  • Development of artificial thykaloids that mimic chloroplast membranes
  • Patterning of solid-supported protein/lipid membranes in 3-D
  • Generation of chip-based biohybrid devices for light-harvesting


All biological cells, from bacteria to human epithelia, are surrounded by membranes comprised of lipids, proteins and other molecules. Biological cell membranes rely upon complex, hierarchical organization to elicit functional responses. To achieve specialized function some membranes form organized domains of protein proteins and multilamellar stacked arrangements, such as those found in the certain membranes involved in photosynthesis (“light-harvesting” membranes). My research aims to develop new artificial 3-D-organized stacked membranes inspired by chloroplast thylakoids. We take a multi-disciplinary approach combining aspects of surface chemistry, nano/micro fabrication, protein biochemistry, spectroscopy and various microscopies to fully explore these membranes.

Synthetic biology often uses genetic engineering or de novo chemical synthesis to develop minimal and/or modular systems of DNA, peptide sequences or organic molecules than can perform novel functions. My research uses purified LH proteins and natural lipids as building blocks to generate novel semi-synthetic systems. Long term goals include: (i) to mimic the natural stacked membrane systems to provide a controlled platform for understanding the assembly and biophysical properties of the membrane protein/lipids, (ii) to design new 3-D patterns of membranes onto solid surfaces with preservation of biological functionality, (iii) to build new bio/hybrid photonic devices. These controlled model membranes will act as a platform to test the factors influencing self-assembly, organisation and function in biological membranes, over multiple scales.

Various techniques are used to fully characterize the proteins, membranes and new devices from the micro- to the nanoscale. These include atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy fluorescence microscopy, spectroscopy, DLS, QCM, etc. We are always looking towards the latest, state-of-the-art technologies to enable the next breakthrough. Success in these efforts will represent a major advance in the controlled design of 3-D complex, functional biomaterials.

Detailed research programme                  Close ▲

BBSRC Anniversary Future Leader Fellow
BSc (Sheffield) PhD (Sheffield)

PhD researcher (Uni. Of Sheffield) 2007-2011
Postdoctoral Research Scholar (Los Alamos National Laboratory) 2012-20
Postdoctoral/ University Academic Fellow (Uni. Of Leeds) 2015-present

8.50aa, E C Stoner Building
School of Physics
0113 343 9718

Selected Publications

  1. Chenchiliyan M, Timpmann K, Jalviste E, Adams PG, Hunter CN, Freiberg A Dimerization of core complexes as an efficient strategy for energy trapping in Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, Bioenergetics 1857 634-642, 2016

  2. Adams PG, Swingle KL, Paxton WF, Nogan JJ, Stromberg LR, Firestone MA, Mukundan H, Montaño GA Exploiting lipopolysaccharide-induced deformation of lipid bilayers to modify membrane composition and generate two-dimensional geometric membrane array patterns Scientific Reports 5 10331, 2015

  3. Adams PG; Collins AM; Sahin T; Subramanian V; Urban VS; Vairaprakash P; Tian Y; Evans DG; Shreve AP; Montaño GA Diblock Copolymer Micelles and Supported Films with Noncovalently Incorporated Chromophores: A Modular Platform for Efficient Energy Transfer Nano Letters 15 2422-2428, 2015

  4. Adams PG; Lamoureux L; Swingle K; Mukundan H; Montaño G Lipopolysaccharide-induced dynamic lipid membrane reorganization: tubules, perforations, and stacks Biophysical Journal 106 2395-2407, 2014