Oxford Colloid Group

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford
Group Photograph

To contact group members by email, please use firstname.lastname "at" chem.ox.ac.uk . Professors Dirk Aarts and Roel Dullens may be contacted here.

Principal Investigators

Professor Dirk Aarts
Professor of Chemistry
Student* of Christ Church

Dirk studied chemistry at the University of Utrecht, and completed his PhD in 2005 at the Van ’t Hoff Laboratory for Physical and Colloidal Chemistry under the supervision of Prof Henk Lekkerkerker. He subsequently moved to the Ecole Normale Supérieure as a Marie Curie Fellow, joining the group of Prof. Daniel Bonn. In 2007 he took up a lecturership at the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory of the University of Oxford, combined with a Studentship at Christ Church. He was made full professor in 2013.

More about Professor Dirk Aarts

Professor Roel Dullens
Professor of Chemistry
Fellow of Lincoln College

Roel is from the Netherlands, where he studied chemistry at the University of Utrecht. He completed his PhD in 2005 in the Van ’t Hoff Laboratory for Physical and Colloidal Chemistry at the same university under the supervision of Prof. Willem Kegel. He then joined the group of Prof. Clemens Bechinger at the University of Stuttgart as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow. In 2007 he took up a lectureship at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Oxford and a Fellowship at Lincoln College. In 2014 he became an associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 2016.

More about Professor Roel Dullens


Postdoctoral Researchers

Ivo Buttinoni
Dr Ivo Buttinoni
Active matter and driven systems (Personal Website)

Ivo is from Italy, and completed his bachelor and master degrees in engineering at the Politecnico di Milano, before obtaining his PhD in active matter at the University of Stuttgart under Prof. Dr  C. Bechinger. He was subsequently an ETH Fellow in the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich, and has research interests in active matter, rheology and shock propagation.

Ivo joins the group as a Marie Curie Fellow, and will work on active matter and driven systems, with a particular focus on stochastic thermodynamics and optical manipulation. He is fascinated by the range of fundamental problems which can be addressed using simple, observable spheres. Outside of the lab, Ivo plays the saxophone and enjoys hiking and travel. He also loves mayonnaise in all its forms.

Arran Curran
Dr Arran Curran
Optical trapping and colloidal holography (Personal Website)

Arran obtained his PhD in physics from Herriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, working with ZnSe-based microcavities, and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Glasgow, where he worked with optical tweezers. He joined the group in 2012, funded by the ERC, and brings expertise in optics which has allowed us to develop more complex experimental systems.

Arran's research interests include single-particle behaviour, in particular thermally-activated transitions and resonance, and driven systems. He is interested in everything to do with light, and is essential in managing the group's microscopy infrastructure. Elsewhere, Arran is an officer of a local cycling club, demonstrates in the physics teaching laboratory, and is interested in web design. He is co-founder of VeloVedic, a local company which provides cycling and yoga retreats.

Lucia Parolini
Dr Lucia Parolini
Droplet sorting using microfluidics and fluorescence

Lucia is from Italy, where she studied her undergraduate and master degrees in Physics at the Università Statale di Milano. She obtained her PhD at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Prof. Pietro Cicuta, where she studied lipid membranes. After a further year in Cambridge as a postdoctoral researcher, she joined the Oxford Colloid Group as part of a collaboration with the group of Prof. John Frater in the Nuffield Department of Medicine.

Lucia is using microfluidics to sort droplets based on fluorescence, which will be applied to sort latent HIV infected cells for sequencing. These cells persist during antiretroviral therapy and are the major obstacle to the eradication of the virus. Outside of the lab, Lucia loves to travel and visits new places whenever she can.

Dr Taiki Yanagashima
Development and application of new colloidal model systems for condensed matter studies (ResearchGate)

Taiki grew up in New Zealand, and was an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius college, Cambridge, where he stayed for a PhD in Physics supervised by Erika Eiser. He was subsequently a JSPS research fellow in the lab of Hajime Tanaka at the University of Tokyo, and has interests in the crystallisation kinetics, interfacial phenomena, and rotational dynamics of colloidal systems.

Taiki was previously a visiting scientist in the group and joined as an ERC-funded postdoctoral researcher in 2018, working on the development of colloidal model systems. He recently developed isotropic particles with anisotropic fluorescence to study the rotational dynamics of particles in dense suspensions with single-particle resolution. Outside of the lab, Taiki enjoys playing tennis and is an amateur pianist and violist.


DPhil Students

Joshua Abbott
Driven colloidal particles in optical landscapes

As an undergraduate, Josh studied chemistry at St. Hilda's College, Oxford, and completed his Part II research project in the Oxford Colloid Group, studying the melting of hard spheres in two-dimensions. On graduation, he stayed in the group and is now in the fourth year of his DPhil, funded by the EPSRC.

Josh investigates colloidal particles driven across periodic optical landscapes, with a particular focus on synchronisation in the presence of imposed external oscillations. He finds this interesting because of its relevance to many real-word phenomena, such as motion of adatoms across a microscopically-rough surface. Outside of the lab, Josh regularly competes in long-distance running events and enjoys cycling. He also likes cooking and grabbing a beer with the group on Friday evenings!

Michael Mordan
Colloid-polymer systems

After five years as a Combat Medic in the Britsh Army, Michael obtained an MChem degree at Cardiff University, which included a research year in carbene chemistry at the University of Munster, Germany, with Prof. Dr F. Ekkehardt Hahn. He is in the fourth year of an industry-sponsored DPhil with Syngenta.

Michael investigates aggregation processes in 2D colloid-polymer systems. He finds the design and implementation of bespoke experimental model systems rewarding, and enjoys the challenge of combining optical microscopy, coding, and statistical analysis to provide physical insight. Outside of the lab, Michael takes part in CrossFit, and once ran from Carlisle to Newcastle in forty-eight hours. A keen motorsports enthusiast, he hand-built a sports car when he was an undergraduate.

Louis Cortes
Louis Cortes
Microfluidic-directed structure of liquid-crystal phases in confinement

Louis hails from the south of France, where he gained a technological degree in physical measurements followed by a Master degree in in fundamental physics at the University of Bordeaux. He is in the third year of his DPhil as part of the Distruc ITN.

He works experimentally on colloidal liquid crystals, with particular interest in their phase behaviour and interfaces in confinement and flow. He finds experimental colloidal science offers a lot of room for imagination and ideas, coupled with interesting background theory and the thrill of interacting with others. Outside of the lab, he enjoys recreational sports, international travel and is officer of the college bar at Christ Church. He also teaches occasional physics classes.

Siyu Chen
Siyu Chen
Freezing colloidal suspensions

Originally from Shanghai, Siyu studied the chemistry-biology combined major program at Osaka University, Japan. During this period he completed an eighteen-month chemical biology project and worked part-time at the Institute for NanoScience Design, researching magneto-optical effects. He is in the third year of his DPhil, which is funded by the China Scholarship Council.

He works on colloidal monolayers in frozen solvents, which he is interested in because of its diverse applications. His work combines expertise in colloidal synthesis and microscopy with insights from non-equilibrium thermodynamics, hydrodynamics and soft matter physics. Outside of the lab, Siyu enjoys photography, Formula 1 and whiskey. He also demonstrates in the teaching lab, teaches biophysics, and is active in student societies.

Adam Stones
Adam Stones
Statistical mechanics of inhomogeneous systems (College Website)

As an undergraduate, Adam read chemistry at Oriel College, Oxford, and completed his Part II research project in the Oxford Colloid Group, where he developed methods for accessing the thermodynamics of colloidal systems using microscopy. He is now a second-year DPhil student funded by a Clarendon Scholarship.

Adam now investigates the statistical mechanics of inhomogeneous fluids using colloid-polymer model systems and optical manipulation. He particularly enjoys applying mathematics to such systems, which have applications in interfacial and material sciences. Outside of the lab, Adam enjoys singing and running, and is a college lecturer at Oriel and St Anne’s colleges.

Lachlan Alexander
Active colloidal particles

As an undergraduate, Lachlan studied chemistry at Christ Church, Oxford, and completed his Part II research project in the Oxford Colloid Group, studying the motion of electrophoretic Janus particles. On graduation, he stayed in the group as a DPhil, funded by the EPSRC and IDEX Bordeaux, and will spend half of his time in France at the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal.

Lachlan is working on the interactions between active particles and colloidal liquid crystals, and hopes that one day his research will be used to inspire real-world applications. Outside of chemistry, he is an avid amateur Ballroom and Latin dancer and is secretary of the Oxford Amateur Dancesport Association. Despite his rather Gaelic name he is technically French, which stems from being of dual nationality.

Balkis Dohni
Optical deformation of colloidal liquid-gas interfaces

Balkis is from France, and completed a bachelor's degree in fundamental physics at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS), Lyon, jointly with the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1. During this time, she was involved in various public engagement programmes, and interned at the Laboratory of the Future (LOF) in Bordeaux. She previously completed an internship in the Oxford Colloid Group working on the flow of rods in micro-channels, and has returned to the group for a DPhil, funded by the ERC.

Balkis is working on actively deforming a colloidal liquid-gas interface using optical tweezers, and is looking forward to augmenting her physics knowledge with colloidal synthesis expertise! Outside of the laboratory, she has a passion for competitive video gaming, enjoys playing Latin jazz on the piano and draws comic sketches.

Carla Fernandez Rico
Synthesis of colloidal liquid crystals

Carla is from Barcelona, and studied nanoscience and nanotechnology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, simultaneously completing two internships at nanotechnology research institutes (ICMAB and ICN2). She subsequently completed a Masters degree in Nanomaterials at Utrecht University, undertaking research in the Van ’t Hoff Laboratory for Physical and Colloidal Chemistry and in the Oxford Colloid Group as an intern. She returns to the group for a DPhil, funded by the ERC.

Carla is developing a system of colloidal rods for simultaneous three-dimensional confocal imaging and optical manipulation, allowing for experiments probing the structure and dynamics of liquid-crystalline phases. Outside of science, Carla has a passion for sports, especially athletics and Karate Kyokushinkai, in which she has competed at an international level, including a first place at the World Cup in 2015!

Joseph Hutchinson
Two-dimensional binary colloidal systems

As an undergraduate, Joseph studied chemistry at Lincoln College, Oxford, and completed his Part II research project in the Oxford Colloid Group, studying the glass transition in two-dimensional binary colloidal systems. After graduating, he stayed in the group as a DPhil, funded by the EPSRC.

Joseph works on two-dimensional binary colloidal systems, with particular interest in coarsening dynamics in impurity doped crystals and in the glass transition in amorphous systems. Outside of chemistry, he enjoy going to indie music concerts, watching classic cinema and foreign language films, sampling real ales, visiting art galleries, and occasionally attempting to jog around Oxford. He is open to suggestions for more pretentious hobbies!

Nicholas Orr
Grain boundaries in colloidal crystals

Nick studied MChem Chemistry at New College, Oxford, gaining a first-class degree. He first joined the group for a six week project working on microscopy of colloidal crystals in the summer of 2016 and stayed for his Part II research year, for which he received a departmental thesis prize. He is now a DPhil student studying interfaces and crystallites in colloidal systems, and is funded by the ERC.

Nick’s studies include the synthesis of colloidal crystals, small angle x-ray diffraction and development of algorithms to identify the location and misorientation of the grain boundaries within such crystals. Outside of the lab, he is president of the Donut Kings Big Band, “Oxford’s sweetest big band sound”, and plays drums in other pop and rock bands. College hockey also keeps him busy on the weekend!


Part II Students

Miranda Bell-Davies
Two-particle microrheology

Miranda joins the group from Lincoln College, and has worked as an intern at Chelsea Technologies Group. She enjoys mathematics and is especially interested in the theory underpinning chemistry. She joined the group because she liked the mixture of theory and (exciting) experiments, and because she found Roel to be a great tutor at Lincoln.

Miranda is working with Adar Sonn-Segev (Kukura group) on two-particle microrheology of colloidal particles in 2D random confinement, which is expected to provide insight into the importance of hydrodynamic interactions in colloidal systems. Outside of the laboratory, Miranda does a lot of sailing and is hoping to begin yacht racing soon. She also enjoys reading and skiing.

Ruth Bradley
Separation of blood cells for HIV detection

Ruth joins the group from Trinity College, and has previously interned in software development. She enjoys physical chemistry because of the creativity required to find an efficient mathematical description of the world. She joined the group because of the mix of theory, experiments and analysis, and because she enjoyed undergraduate lectures from Roel and Dirk.

Ruth works with Lucia and the Frater Group on separating blood cells from plasma in a cheap and accessible way to enable more efficient HIV testing in the developing world, and enjoys combining the physical understanding of microfluidics with a biological understanding of the flow properties of blood. She enjoys music, cooking with friends, and being enthusiastically bad at most sports!

Han Sol Jeon
Liquid Crystals

Han Sol joins the group from St Edmund Hall, and has previously interned at Seoul National University in 2014 and the National University of Singapore in 2016 and 2017. She first became interested in colloidal chemistry at high school and has completed several research projects in the field, and decided to join the Oxford Colloid Group for her Part II research.

Han Sol is working on colloidal rods with Louis, which have been studied less extensively than spherical colloids but which she hopes will offer rich insights to inspire widespread applications, such as in screens for electronic devices. Outside of chemistry, Han Sol enjoys fencing, running and the gym. She plays the cello, and has recently been studying several European languages (French, German and Spanish). She is a committee member of the Oxford University Asian Pacific Society (OUAPS).

Jeroen Rijks
Active colloidal particles

Jeroen joins the group from Worcester College, and has previously carried out research with the Earth Sciences department. At Part I, he found physical chemistry provided an opportunity to work through problems creatively: this, combined with Dirk's terrible banter and Roel's Iron Maiden t-shirt, led him to become fascinated with the work of our group.

Jeroen works with Marjolein and Lachlan on the motion of electrophoretic Janus particles, a project he enjoys because of its flexibility and potential to spring surprises! Outside of science, he is a fanatic musician, playing the drums and piano. He has founded two bands, is co-writing an album and has worked at a record label. He also enjoys cooking and cliff-jumping.

Muhammad Sulaiman
Active colloidal particles

Muhammad joins the group from Balliol College, and has interned in Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Bristol, where he learned to program in Python. He joined the group because he found Dirk and Roel's lectures interesting and was fascinated by behaviour at the colloidal length-scale as well as the molecular length-scale typical in chemistry.

Muhammad works with Ivo on active colloidal particles, which are self-propelling and mimic biological entities such as bacteria, and hopes this research area will become important in healthcare and environmental applications, for example. Outside of chemistry, he enjoys watching movies, hiking, working out, travel and photography.

Caitlin Tickell
Colloidal Synthesis

Caitlin joins the group from Balliol College, and has just interned at Perrett Laver, as well as previously working in research labs in Bristol and Oxford. She likes the balance between computational and experimental aspects of physical chemistry, and has previously worked with colloids. She joined the group because of its breadth of applications and interests, and because she enjoyed Roel and Dirk's lectures.

Caitlin is synthesising VTMS particles, including trying to determine their mass density. Outside of chemistry, she is co-founder and Events Officer of the Women in Science group at Balliol, and has previously chaired the SU’s Women’s Campaigns Committee and has led the Harrassment Policy working group, amongst others. She also loves reading, hiking and coffee!


Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Bo Peng 2013-2016, Synthesis and characterisation of (magnetic) colloidal system.
  • Kazem Edmond, 2014-2016, Confocal microscopy of 3D colloidal crystals and TPM particle synthesis, now at Exxon Mobil.
  • Yongxiang Gao, 2013-2016. LinkedIn profile. Yongxiang's research focused on the physics of active colloidal particles and their synthesis.
  • Lia Verhoeff, 2012-2016. LinkedIn profile. Lia's research focused on emulsions and interfaces.
  • Marjolein van der Linden, 2015-2018. Marjolein worked on active particles.

DPhil Students

  • Huzaifah Abdul Razak, 2017, wetting in colloid-polymer mixtures.
  • Yanyan Liu, 2017, Colloidal particles for confocal microscopy and optical tweezing.
  • Raam Chauhan, 2017, The Effect of Colloidal Aggregates on Fat Crystal Networks, currently at Softwire.
  • Kira Klop, 2016. Colloidal Rods in Confinement. 
  • Colin Reynolds, 2016, Field induced assembly of superparamagnetic colloidal particles, currently at Metaswitch.
  • Francois Lavergne, 2016. LinkedIn Profile. Personal Website. François studied the dynamics of grain boundaries in two-dimensional colloidal crystals. He is now a postdoc in the group of Clemens Bechinger at the University of Konstanz, Germany.
  • Paola Ferrari, 2016.
  • Julia Schollick,2015. LinkedIn Profile. In collaboration with Unilever, Julia researched freezing suspensions of colloidal particles, currently at BAE systems.
  • Alice Thorneywork, 2015. LinkedIn Profile. Alice researched quasi-2D colloidal hard-sphere particles as an accurate model of liquid state theory. She is now a postdoc with Ulrich Keyser at Cambridge University. 
  • Min Setu, 2014/2015.
  • Sam Ivell, 2014, currently Cyber analyst at Darktrace.
  • Mike Juniper, 2014, Dynamics of driven colloidal systems in one-dimensional potential energy landscapes, currently at Nikon.
  • Ioannis Zacharoudiou, 2013, Viscous Fingering and Liquid Crystals in Con finement currently at Imperial.
  • Oli Dammone, 2013, Confinement of Colloidal Liquid Crystals, currently at BAE systems.
  • Tom Skinner, 2012, Two-dimensional colloidal systems: grain boundaries and confinement, currently at BAE systems.
  • Liz Jamie, 2011, Colloidal Interfaces in Confinement, currently with Schlumberger.

Visiting Scientists

  • Taiki Yanagishima, 2017.
  • Andrei Petukhov, 2017.
  • Urs Zimmerman, 2012.
  • Laura Campo Deano, 2012.
  • Francisco Galindo Rosales, 2012.