University of Exeter: Exeter expert awarded prestigious Institute of Physics medal

Professor Vollmer, from Exeter’s Living Systems Institute, received the award for his distinguished research and contributions to biosensing with optical microcavities.

The single-molecule technique enables ground-breaking advances in how we use light to study biomolecules and their biochemical reactions.

The IOP awards celebrate physicists at every stage of their career; from those just starting out through to physicists at the peak of their careers, and those with a distinguished career behind them.

They also recognise and celebrate companies which are successful in the application of physics and innovation, as well as employers who demonstrate their commitment and contribution to scientific and engineering apprenticeship schemes.

Professor Vollner said: “I am particularly proud to receive this medal as it honours the interdisciplinary work undertaken in my laboratory. It recognises the thriving area of optical techniques that study single-molecules.“

Optical microcavities are fundamental components of important optical devices including lasers. Professor Vollmer has pioneered the application of optical microcavities in biosensing. Label-free optical sensors based on whispering gallery mode (WGM) microcavities exhibit extraordinary sensitivity for detecting physical, chemical and biological properties of single molecules

In Exeter, Professor Vollmer has initiated the Molecular Mechanics Initiative (MMI), a cutting-edge research programme undertaken by a growing interdisciplinary team of now more than 25 researchers from physics and biology that seeks to make step changes in how we detect, analyse and manipulate biomolecules at the ultimate single-molecule level. The interdisciplinary MMI team is now advancing nanoprobing of femto-Newton forces to interrogate the complex motions of active enzymes and to prepare the ground for future manipulation and exploitation of synthetic biomolecular machinery.

University of Exeter