Dr Bart Hoogenboom

tel: +44(0)20 7679 0606
ext: 30606
fax: +44 (0)20 7679 0595


Research interests:

Nanoscale Biophysics
Atomic Force Microscopy


Bart Hoogenboom is a Reader at the Department of Physics and Astronomy (UCL) and  the London Centre for Nanotechnology, where he is also lead scientist for its atomic force microscopy facilities. He was initially trained as a solid-state physicist, working on correlated-electron systems and scanning probe microscopy. Since his PhD, he has gradually shifted his focus to nanoscale biological structures and processes, and currently leads a nanoscale biophysics research group.

  • 2013-present, Reader at the London Centre for Nanotechnology and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London
  • 2007-2013, Lecturer at the London Centre for Nanotechnology and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London
  • 2005-2007, Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland, Laboratory of Prof. Andreas Engel
  • 2002-2005, Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, Department of Physics, University of Basel, Switzerland, Laboratory of Prof. Hans Hug
  • 1998-2002, Ph. D. Condensed Matter Physics, University of Geneva, Switzerland, Laboratory of Prof. Øystein Fischer
  • 1998, M. Sc. Surface Physics, University of Groningen, the Netherlands, Laboratory of Prof. George Sawatzky

Nanotechnological tools enable us to study and manipulate single atoms and molecules. There is a particular interest in exploiting these tools to investigate the molecular machines that make the biological cell function in a way similar to a macroscopic factory and yet - because of their nanometre-scale size and the presence of an aqueous environment - so different.

Our research has a strong focus on scanning probe techniques. Of all scanning probe microscopes, the atomic force microscope (AFM) is the most popular for biological applications. Using an extremely sharp tip, it allows users to scan a surface just like a person's fingertip reading Braille, “touching” and “feeling” single molecules and/ or atoms. Moreover, since the AFM can be operated in liquid, we can probe and image biomolecules under conditions that are very near to those in a living cell.

Precise control of the AFM cantilever, our miniature "fingertip", is crucial to gently probe molecules without damaging or distorting them. In our laboratory, we develop new techniques to get complete control of the cantilever in aqueous environment, with the aim of probing and imaging biologically relevant samples with sub-molecular or even atomic resolution. We apply these techniques to a variety of samples, preferably to molecules of biomedical relevance.

A list of our publications can be found here.

Research Highlights

AFM antimicrobial peptides form membrane pores
There is an urgent need to find new antibiotics as bacteria are constantly evolving and steadily becoming resistant to the...
When Watson and Crick discovered the DNA double helix nearly sixty years ago, they based their structure on an averaged X-...
Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image of the cantilever sensor array
A chilled beer or glass of wine are popular ways to relax after a long day, but what if nano-scale sensors could tell you...
(a) Topographic structure and (b) map of negative (black) charges of DNA molecul
Electrostatic forces, potentials and charges play a key role in determining the structure and function of proteins, DNA and...
Due to their smallness, nanomechanical resonators can sense masses down to a few atoms in vacuum. They typically transduce...
High-temperature superconductors conduct electrical currents, without any resistance, up to temperatures above the boiling...
Surface charges play a key role in determining the structure and function of proteins, DNA and larger biomolecular...

Biotechnology and Biological Research Council BBSRC
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council EPSRC
European Molecular Biology Organization EMBO
Royal Society RS
Sackler Foundation
US Office of Naval Research ONR


PHASM800/PHASG800 Molecular Biophysics (since 2009)
PHAS3255 Solid State Physics, evening course (2008/2009)