Nanomaterials are chemical substances or materials that are manufactured and used at a very small scale. They are developed to exhibit novel characteristics (such as increased strength, chemical reactivity or conductivity). Nanomaterials are already used in more than 1000 products and have the potential to improve quality of life. However, new materials may also pose a risk to people’s health and the environment and there is still scientific uncertainty about their use.

We work closely with European and international partners on the development, characterisation and toxicological evaluation of nanomaterials. Our research has important implications for the safe development of nanomaterials. We work to understand, assess exposure and minimise the risks associated with nanomaterials in various consumer products.

Our research:

We focus on developing methodologies for toxicological evaluation of nanomaterials. We have studied nanomaterials with a broad range of applications, including as a drug delivery vehicle, reinforcement agent in advanced materials, and catalyst in environment pollution treatment. A key aim is to develop animal-free models and methods for nanomaterials toxicity assessment. A range of 2D and 3D cell cultures have been well characterised for use as surrogates for organ-specific toxicity modelling.

Our clients: 

  • Central government eg. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Department of Health (DH), Department for Transport (DfT), Health and Safety Executive (HSE);

  • European government (EU framework research projects), European Food Safety Authority (EFSAUK);

  • UK research bodies and universities.

Our facilities

Our state-of-the-art laboratories and analytical facilities enable us to establish a strong capacity in integration of nanomaterial development, characterisation and toxicity testing.

These facilities include a cell culture laboratory, Flow cytometer, Confocal microscope, SEM/TEM, Atomic Force microscope, FT-IR spectrometer and Malvern Nanosizer.

Working with us

There are a variety of ways to work with us, ranging from use of postgraduate students to conduct blue sky or applied research, to well defined consultancy projects that take advantage of our specialist scientists to conduct clearly defined investigations. We undertake projects for individual businesses and also research associations. The work can be focused on open publication outputs or provision of data within standard non-disclosure agreements.

We provide a range of expertise and services including:

• Nanoparticle characterisation: SEM and TEM imaging of nanoparticle size and mophorlogy, Zeta potential, hydrodynamic diameter and dispersion pattern analysis using Malvern instruments, and FT-IR analysis of nanoparticle chemistry
• In vitro toxicity testing: cytotoxicity endpoint assays using a range of cell lines of human tissue origins
• Assessment of the possible release of airborne nanoparticles from nanomaterials: simulating different conditions in testing chamber and monitoring the release of airborne nanomaterials from testing samples.