Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research

Staff Profile

Professor Andrew Benniston

Deputy Head of School



As co-founder of the Molecular Photonics Laboratory (MPL) at Newcastle in 2001, my role is primarily concerned with the design and synthesis of multi-component supermolecules for fundamental studies in energy and/or electron transfer. A more recent aspect is applying the developed systems for photonic applications such as real-time monitoring of physical processes in nano-environments, solid-state luminescence pressure-sensitive materials, photochromic materials for data recording, and fluorescence sensors for biological imaging. The complexity of the molecular systems produced depends greatly on the problem to be addressed, but high purity and full structural characterisation are paramount.


The Molecular Photonics Laboratory (MPL) was set up in 2001 to allow the synthesis and investigation (spectroscopic & theoretical) of photoactive molecular-scale systems to be carried out in the same institute. The MPL group is multidisciplinary, where members from all backgrounds participate in a weekly meeting where progress updates are given and current literature reviewed.

Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Deputy Head of School for Natural & Environmental Sciences
  2. Head of Chemistry
  3. Co-Director of Molecular Photonics Laboratory
  4. Module Leader CHY1402


PhD University of Warwick
BSc (hons) 1st Chemistry: University of Warwick

Previous Positions

1994-2001 Lecturer: University of Glasgow
1992-1994 Postdoctoral researcher: University of Texas at Austin
1991-1992 Postdoctoral researcher: University of Strasbourg


Royal Society of Chemistry

Honours and Awards

Royal Society postdoctoral fellowship (1991)
Royal Society of Chemistry JWT Jones Travel Fellowship (1996)
Royal Society Travel Grant (2010)


English & French

Informal Interests

Time Travel


Research Interests

Directional Electron Transfer
Multidimensional Molecular Switches
New Imaging Technology
Photochromic Materials
Synthesis and Spectroscopy of Fluorescent Dyes

Google Scholar


Current Work

Electron and energy transfer in molecular systems

Artificial enzymes

Fluorescent probes

Artificial membranes 

Future Research

Design and synthesis of artificial neural networks capable of directional electron migration.

Self repairing photoactive assemblies

Solar driven redox reactions

Research Roles

The synthetic section of the Molecular Photonics Laboratory is the complementary part of the spectroscopy section run by Prof. Tony Harriman. My role is to design new molecular systems and supervise their synthesis and full characterisation. More recently a new collaboration has been set up with Dr Libby Gibson looking into new materials for thin-film solar device manufacture.  

Postgraduate Supervision

The synthesis section of the Molecular Photonics Laboratory is currently supporting a Royal Society Newton Fellow, PhD students and MChem students. Four oversees postgraduate students from Moldova are enganged in joint projects. 

Esteem Indicators

  • Editor in Chief for the Journal of Analytical and Bioanalytical Techniques.
  • EPSRC College Member (2003-2005).
  • Grant Reviewer: National Science Foundation (USA).
  • Organiser: RSC Macrocycles and Supramolecular Chemistry Meeting (2005).
  • Invited contributor to the "Encylopedia of Supramolecular Chemistry" (Eds J. Steed & J. Atwood)(2004).
  • Invited contributor to the acclaimed book "Nanostructured Materials and Nanotechnology" (Ed H. S. Nalwa) (2001).
  • Invited articles for Chemical Society Reviews (1996), (2004) and (2006).
  • Invited review article for PCCP on Renewable Energy (2007 Front Cover Article) and ‘Instant Insight’ for Chemical Science.
  • Co-organiser RSC one-day symposium on Renawable Energy at Glasgow University (2009).
  • Invited perspective article for PCCP on BODIPY compounds (2009).
  • Keynote speaker at ACS Meetings in San Francisco and Boston (2010).
  • Coordinator FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES Grant (2010-2013).
  • Royal Society Travel Fellowship (2010).
  • Contributor at Sixth International Conference on Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines (New Mexico, 2010).
  • Invited speaker at Solar Prague (COST) Meeting (2011).
  • Scientific Committee Member for Faraday Discussion on Artificial Photosynthesis (2011).
  • International Scientific Committee for IUPAC Photochemistry Meeting(Portugal, 2012).
  • Invited speaker XVII Conference on Physical Methods in Coordination and Supramolecular Chemistry (Moldova, 2012)
  • Invited organiser/lecturer at the 4th International Conference and Exhibition on Analytical and Bioanalytical Techniques (Las Vegas, 2013).
  • Keynote speaker at 5th International Conference on Analytical and Bioanalytical Techniques (Beijing, 2014).
  • Keynote speaker at XVIII Conference on Physical Methods in Coordination and Supramolecular Chemistry (Moldova, 2015).
  • H-index 33 (Scopus).


10 EPSRC grants
4 Nuffield Foundation grants
2 Leverhulme grants
1 Royal Society
1 Commercial Funding
1 Marie Curie IRSES


1 BoE


Undergraduate Teaching

CHY1301 Fundamentals of Inorganic Chemistry

CHY2301 Inorganic Chemistry

CHY1402 Analytical Methods and their Applications

CHY3011 Research Literature Project

CHY8430 Advanced Problem Solving

Postgraduate Teaching

MChem project supervision