Paul Mulheran


  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

My research interests lie in modelling and understanding nucleation and growth of nanostructures, and I aim to control these to engineer useful systems. For example, I research the growth of titania nanostructures which have applications as materials for energy and catalysis. I also look at how biomolecules such as anti-bodies interact with various materials to create bio-medical devices. I was educated as a Theoretical Physicist at both undergraduate and doctoral level, and use my experience to develop a strong analytical ethos in my teaching activities, which include programming and IT skills, fundamental concepts in energy and entropy, and problem solving skills. I help to run the University's High Performance Computers including Archie-West, the regional tier-2 centre funded by the EPSRC which caters for the local community of industry and universities.  


Research Interests

Available Funded PhD Project:

Design of functional chitosan films: antimicrobial applications

Other PhD project available:

Inhibiting amyloid development using natural compounds: a molecular dynamics study

My research interests lie in the domain of materials modelling, including biomolecular interactions with inorganic materials, where a lot of my work is performed in close collaboration with Dr Karina Kubiak-Ossowska from the Department of Physics at Strathclyde. Recent Strathclyde research collaborations include:

  • Modelling peptide interactions with nanoparticles, in collaboration with the experimental groups of Dr Siddharth Patwardhan in Chemical and Process Engineering and Dr. Val Ferro in SIPBS;
  • Modelling fibronectin interaction with material surfaces for bio-medical device applications, in collaboration with the experimental groups of Dr Zhenyu Zhang in Chemical and Process Engineering and Dr. Richard Black in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Strathclyde;
  • Modelling fibril nucleation and growth in collaboration with the experimental groups of Prof. Jan Sefcik in Chemical and Process Engineering and Dr Olaf Rolinski in Physics;
  • Modelling gold nanoparticle nucleation, growth and interactions with proteins in collaboration with Dr Yu Chen in Physics;
  • Theoretical models for nucleation and growth processes at surfaces in collaboration with Dr Michael Grinfeld and Dr Wilson Lamb from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.  

My external research collaborations include:

  • Dr Roger Bennett at the University of Reading who performs scanning probe microscopy experiments of the growth of nanostructures on titania and other oxides;
  • Dr Gavin Bell at the University of Warwick who performs high resolution electron microscopy of nanostructure growth on graphene;
  • Dr Michael Nolan at the Tyndall Institute, Cork, who uses electronic structure calculations to investigate the opto-electronic properties of surface nanostructures;
  • Dr Barbar Jachimska at the Jerzy Haber Institute, Cracow, part of the Polish Academy of Science, with whom we have an Erasmus+ agreement for the exchange of staff and PhD students to collaborate on theranostic systems.

Further details of my research can be found in my publications, a full list is available on:

Expertise & Capabilities

My expertise and capabilities include:

  • Classical Molecular Dynamics simulations;
  • Long time-scale simulations using saddle-point searches and Temperature Accelerated Dynamics;
  • Materials modelling for oxides such as titania, silica, ZnO;
  • Theory of nucleation and growth at surfaces (e.g. rate equations, distribution fixed point equations and scaling);
  • Monte Carlo simulation

Industrial Relevance

My work as Operational Director for Archie-West ( involves direct support for local industry such as the Weir Group and SgurrEnergy. These clients use our High Performance Computing service, which includes dedicated support to facilitate their work, to address problems on a scale and throughput which is not available with local workstations, thus giving them a competitive advantage. This year we also have a specific project funded by the EPSRC to facilitate further SME engagement, since the government recognises the commercial advantages that modern e-infrastructure brings to UK industry. Archie-west also provides a focal point for academia-industry collaboration in the region.

My research also has specific industrial relevance to the engineering of functional surfaces. For example, my research into antibody interactions with material surfaces involves collaboration with a local spin-out company called Quantilyte who are creating new Point-of-Care Testing devices. 

Teaching Interests

I currently teach the following classes:

  • CP306 IT skills including Mathcad for report writing and data analysis, and Aspen flow-sheeting software;
  • CP409 Problem Solving, including dimensional analysis and modelling;
  • CP529 Programming and Optimisation, using Visual Basic with Excel to provide a versatile platform for engineering applications;
  • CP407 Conceptual Design;
  • 18530 Project, including research projects within my group as well industrial and Erasmus placements.

I also have experience of teaching the following:

  • Fundamentals of energy and entropy;
  • Concepts in Physics;
  • Fractals and Chaos;
  • Quantum Mechanics;
  • Fourier Methods.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Science, University of Exeter

Award Date: 1 Jan 1991

Bachelor of Science, University of Exeter

Award Date: 1 Jan 1986


  • Bio-nanotechnology
  • Materials
  • Classical molecular dynamics simulations


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