UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy

Prof Thanh Nguyen

Prof Thanh Nguyen

Professor of Nanomaterials

Dept of Physics & Astronomy

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2009

Research summary

My Research Interests are in Nanomaterials for Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences and Nanotechnology.

Teaching summary

Prof NGUYEN TK THANH  FRSC, FInstP, FIMMM, FRSB held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (2005-2014) and Professor of Nanomaterials at the UCL Healthcare Biomagnetic and Nanomaterials Laboratories and Department of Physics & Astronomy, University College London. 

She is Editor-in-chief of The Royal Society of Chemistry book Series, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology


University of East London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1998
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1994
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1992


In 1992, she received the award for top academic achievement in Chemistry and was selected to study at the University of Amsterdam under a NUFFIC (the Netherlands organisation for international cooperation in higher education) program, under which she embarked on a career in research.

In 1994, she was selected for an EU-funded PhD position in Biochemistry. She developed a method to analyse different types of lipids in rat kidney and urine to study the renal toxicity of N-phenyl anthranilic acid, an agent inducing renal papillary necrosis and mefenamic acid, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic drug. The outcome was that lipids could be used as a non-invasive marker for renal papillary necrosis, a major disease caused by long term abuse of analgesic drugs.

In 1999, she undertook postdoctoral work in medicinal chemistry at Aston University and developed a method to synthesise new cell membrane-permeable fluorescent analogues of the cyclic nucleotide second messengers, cAMP and cGMP, as sensors to study cellular mechanisms of memory storage. This first postdoc period provided her with advanced practical experience in chemical synthesis, which proved very valuable for her later research in nanotechnology.

In 2001, she moved to the United States to take advantage of pioneering work in nanotechnology, an emerging and rapidly growing field of science. She brought together her previous skills to synthesise nanoparticle-based sensors for biological assays. An important feature of this first phase of work in BioNanotechology was the demonstration of the power of nanotechnological tools to simplify conventional bioanalytical assays, which results in substantial cost and time savings at the point of use. She developed a unique, sensitive, and highly specific immunoassay system for antibodies using Au nanoparticles (NPs). This baptism in nanotechnology in the USA gave her an insight into the field and convinced her that this was where her future lay.

In 2003, there was an opportunity for her to move a step forward in gaining an independent research career in nanotechnology, when she joined the Liverpool Centre for Nanoscale Science. This position has provided a strong interdisciplinary environment (e.g., PGNOW for glycosaminoglycan studies, cancer research and tissue engineering), in which she have gained knowledge of biomolecular sciences, and developed close collaborations with those interested in applying these new approaches to the study of biological problems. She also has established strong collaborations with physicists in UK and abroad to study physical properties of NPs (e.g., magnetic order within individual Co NPs and magnetic interactions between them).

In 2005, she was awarded a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship and University of Liverpool lectureship. She was based at Department of Chemistry (ranked 7th in the UK in 2008 RAE) and School of Biological Sciences.

In January 2009, she was appointed a UCL-RI Readership in Nanotechnology and based at The Davy Faraday Research Laboratory, The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London, UK. She leads a research team focused on the design, synthesis and study the physical properties of nanomaterials as well as their applications in biomolecular and biomedical research.

In 2013, she was promoted to a Professor of Nanomaterials and based at UCL Healthcare Biomagnetic and Nanomaterials Laboratories, at the Royal Institutions, and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London. She leads a very dynamic research group conducting cutting edge interdisciplinary research on the design and synthesis of nanomaterials for biomedical applications.