This is the website of the research group led by Professor Sonia Contera.
We work at the interface of physics, biology, and nanotechnology. Our main tool is the atomic force microscope, and we focus on measuring mechanics and mechanical properties at the nanoscale. We also create bio-inspired nanomaterials for medical applications, including biosensors, and polymeric materials for drug delivery/tissue engineering.
We are motivated by one the most important questions in modern science: "What is the physics underlying biological intelligence"; we want to know how biological matter entangles itself with its environment, storing information in time and space, to create complex structures (from the nanometre scale, up) that are able to adapt, learn, reproduce and evolve to become “alive” by dissipating energy.
Currently, we collaborate with engineers and neuroscientists to study mechanoelectrical coupling in the brain, with plant scientists to understand the physics underlying plants' growth and shapes. We also collaborate with clinicians to understand how tumours "compute" their mechanical shapes.
We also collaborate with engineers to create graphene devices for measuring biomolecular interactions. And characterise and fabricate materials for drug delivery and tissue engineering.