Centre for Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy

Staff Profile

Dr Ben Horrocks

Reader in Physical Chemistry


Area of Expertise

Nanotechnology, Electrochemistry

Google Scholar



I am a member of the Chemical Nanoscience Laboratory and our research focus is on the design & synthesis of new nanomaterials and the investigation of their properties.



We prepare nanowires by templating reactions on DNA molecules; these nanowires can be very long (>10 mm) and smooth1,2. Metals3, binary semiconductors4, oxides5, and conductive polymers can all be template in the form of nanowires by this technique6,7.

1. Houlton A, Pike AR, Galindo MA, Horrocks BR. DNA-based routes to semiconducting nanomaterials. Chemical Communications 2009, (14), 1797-1806.

2. Watson SMD, Houlton A, Horrocks BR. Equilibrium and non-equilibrium thermodynamics of templating reactions for the formation of nanowires. Nanotechnology 2012, 23(50), 505603.

3. Hinai M N, Hassanien R, Wright N G, Horsfall A B, Houlton A and Horrocks BR. Networks of DNA-templated palladium nanowires: structural and electrical characterisation and their use as hydrogen gas sensors. Faraday Discuss., 2013, Advance Article DOI: 0.1039/C3FD00017F.

4. Dong L, Hollis T, Connolly BA, Wright NG, Horrocks BR, Houlton A. DNA-templated semiconductor nanoparticle chains and wires. Advanced Materials 2007, 19(13), 1748-1751.

5. Mohamed HDA, Watson SMD, Horrocks BR, Houlton A. Magnetic and conductive magnetite nanowires by DNA-templating. Nanoscale 2012, 4(19), 5936-5945.

6. Pruneanu S, Al-Said SAF, Dong L, Hollis TA, Galindo MA, Wright NG, Houlton A, Horrocks BR. Self-assembly of DNA-templated polypyrrole nanowires: Spontaneous formation of conductive nanoropes. Advanced Functional Materials 2008, 18(16), 2444-2454.

7. Hassanien R, Al-Hinai M, Al-Said SAF, Little R, Siller L, Wright NG, Houlton A, Horrocks BR. Preparation and Characterization of Conductive and Photoluminescent DNA-Templated Polyindole Nanowires. ACS Nano 2010, 4(4), 2149-2159.

Quantum dots

Silicon quantum dots are of interest for applications in confocal fluorescence imaging in cell biology and because of their unusual photophysical behaviour. We are currently investigating metal-enhanced luminescence1, photocharging2, endocytosis of SiQDs3, and their use in assays for osteoclastic bone resorption4.

 1. Harun NA, Benning MJ, Horrocks BR, Fulton DA. Gold nanoparticle-enhanced luminescence of silicon quantum dots co-encapsulated in polymer nanoparticles. Nanoscale 2013, (epub ahead of print).

2. Rostron RJ, Chao Y, Roberts G, Horrocks BR. Simultaneous photocharging and luminescence intermittency in silicon nanocrystals. Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter 2009, 21(23), 235301.

3. Alsharif NH, Berger CEM, Varanasi SS, Chao Y, Horrocks BR, Datta HK. Alkyl-Capped Silicon Nanocrystals Lack Cytotoxicity and have Enhanced Intracellular Accumulation in Malignant Cells via Cholesterol-Dependent Endocytosis. Small 2009, 5(2), 221-228.

4. Alsharif NH, Al-Said SAF, Birch MA, Horrocks BR, Datta HK. Real-time activity bioassay of single osteoclasts using a silicon nanocrystal-impregnated artificial matrix. Small 2013, 9(epub ahead of print).


Current Teaching

CHY1211 Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry#
CHY3210 Physical and Computational Chemistry#
CHY8428 Energy and Materials
CHY8511 Research Project
NES8002 Research Dissertation Project
# module leader