Professor Tim Albrecht

Professor Tim Albrecht

School of Chemistry
Chair in Physical Chemistry

Contact details

Telephone
+44 (0) 121 414 8905
Fax
+44 (0) 121 414 4403
Email
t.albrecht@bham.ac.uk
Address
School of Chemistry
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Tim Albrecht joined the University of Birmingham as Chair in Physical Chemistry in 2017. Prior to joining the University, he was Reader in Interfacial and Analytical Sciences at Imperial College.

Qualifications

  • PhD in Chemistry, TU Berlin and Max-Planck Institute for Bioinorganic Chemistry, Muelheim/Germany - 2003
  • Diploma in Chemistry, University of Essen/Germany and Department of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley - 2000

Biography

Tim studied Chemistry at the University of Essen in Germany from 1995-2000. Following brief research visits at the European Joint Research Centre in Ispra in Italy and the University of California at Berkeley, Tim graduated with a Diploma in Chemistry (equivalent to a Masters degree) in early 2000.

After graduating, Tim joined Peter Hildebrandt's group at the Max-Planck Institute for Radiation Chemistry (now Bioinorganic Chemistry) in 2000. Tim worked on charge transfer processes in natural and artificial heme proteins on metal surfaces using SER(R)S, single-crystal electrochemistry and electrochemical STM (in Jens Ulstrup's group at the Technical Institute of Denmark (DTU). He obtained his PhD from the Technical University (TU) of Berlin in 2003 and afterwards returned to Ulstrup's group as a postdoctoral fellow.

In 2006, he moved to London to take up a lecturer position in Interfacial and Analytical Sciences in the Chemistry Department at Imperial College, where he was made Senior Lecturer in 2011 and then Reader in 2014.

In 2017, Tim joined the faculty in the School of Chemistry at Birmingham University as Chair of Physical Chemistry.

Doctoral research

PhD title
There are several PhD opportunities currently available in the group. The postitions are available in my group and it would not be appropriate if applicants emailed me regarding positions in other groups of the unit.

Research

Our research interests in the group revolve around charged interfaces and charge transport at the nanoscale and in electrochemical environments. We employ various in situ Scanning Probe Microscopy techniques (e.g., EC-STM and EC-AFM), electrochemical methods including impedance spectroscopy, and custom-built, high-performance amplifiers for nanopore sensing. We actively collaborate with other chemists, physicists, materials scientists, electronics engineers and machine-learning experts.

Charge Transport in Single Molecules

While charge transport in linear molecules is fairly well understood, the situation is quite different for branched or ring-shaped molecules. Depending on the charge transport mechanism, quantum interference (QI) or new types of hopping phenomena may occur, which in the case of QI can enhance the thermoelectric performance of a molecule. Hence, in this activity we study 'new' molecules, in an effort to understand their complex interfacial and charge transport behaviour.

For more information, please see the following research papers:

  • LE Wilson, C Hassenrück, RF Winter, AJP White, T Albrecht, NJ Long, "Ferrocene- and Biferrocene-Containing Macrocycles towards Single-Molecule Electronics", Angew. Chem. 2017, 56, 6838-6842.
  • MS Inkpen, S Scheerer, M Linseis, AJP White, RF Winter, T Albrecht, NJ Long, "Oligomeric ferrocene rings", Nat. Chem. 2016,  8, 825-830.

Quantum Tunnelling for Sensing and Sequencing

Is it possible to use the quantum-mechanical tunnelling effect for sequencing of biopolymer's, such as DNA, RNA and proteins? This is an intriguing possibility, but also an enormous challenge. In recent years, we have made significant progress towards this goal, by showing that tunnelling detection of single DNA molecules is indeed compatible with a high-throughput analysis platform (nanopores). We are now pushing the limits on single-base detection in EC-STM, with a combination of surface engineering and state-of-the-art machine learning techniques, including Deep Learning.

For more information, please read the following research papers:

  • AP Ivanov, E Instuli, CM McGilvery, G Baldwin, DW McComb, T Albrecht, JB Edel, "DNA Tunnelling Detector Embedded in a Nanopore", Nano Letters 2011, 11, 279-285.
  • T Albrecht, "Electrochemical tunnelling sensors and their potential applications", Nat. Comm. 2012, 3, 829.

Single-molecule sensing with nanopore and nanopipettes

This is an exciting field of research, which spans from fundamental biophysical studies on biopolymers to biosensing and diagnostics. Based on rather unique instrumental capabilities, we are in a position to not only detect and control translocation of single biomolecules, but also to characterise them at a sub-molecular level. This opens up new avenues towards all-electronic biosensing and new types of DNA assays.

For more information, please read the following research papers:

  • RL Fraccari, P Ciccarella, A Bahrami, M Carminati, G Ferrari, T Albrecht, "High-speed detection of DNA translocation in nanopipettes", Nanoscale 2016, 8, 7604-7611.
  • RL Fraccari, M Carminati, G Piantanida, T Leontidou, G Ferrari, T Albrecht, "High-bandwidth detection of short DNA in nanopipettes", Faraday Disc. 2016, 193, 459-470.

Machine Learning in Single-Molecule Science

The exploration and application of Machine Learning tools has become an underpinning theme in various aspects of our work, including dimensionality reduction techniques (PCA, MPVC, t-SNE), Autoencoders for unsupervised classification, Support Vector Machines, and Deep Learning methods such as Convolutional Neural Networks.

For more information, please read the following research papers:

  • M Lemmer, MS Inkpen, K Kornysheva, NJ Long, T Albrecht, "Unsupervised vector-based classification of single-molecule charge transport data", Nat. Comm. 2016, 7, 12922.
  • T Albrecht, G Slabaugh, E Alonso, S M Masudur R Al-Arif, "Deep learning for single-molecule science", Nanotechnology 2017, DOI: 10.1088/1361-6528/aa8334.

Other activities

  • Director of Postgraduate Studies, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, 2012 - 2016
  • Member of Senate, Faculty of Natural Sciences Representative, Imperial College, 2010 - 2013

In relation to learned societies

  • RSC Electrochemistry Group, Executive Committee member (2011 onwards) and Chair (since 2014)
  • UK Regional Representative to the ISE - 2011 - 2016
  • Secretary General of the ISE - 2018 onwards

Working with industry

Technology Consultant at Imperial Consultants (2010 onwards)

Previous and ongoing industry collaborations include Agilent (now Keysight), Nanomeasurements Division and Agilent Research Santa Rosa (i.a. joint 1-year mutual secondment project), Rio Tinto (mineral leaching), Shell ('Digital Rocks' Project) and Siemens Corporate Technology in Erlangen/Germany (in relation to our DNA sequencing work).

Publications

Publications

For a full list of publications, please view my Google Scholar

Awards

  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2017
  • John-Albery Memorial Lecture at UK Electrochem, 2014
  • Welcome Trust Value-in-People Award for a Visiting Professorship at TU Delft (Kavli Institute for Nanoscience), 2014
  • Tajima Award, International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE), 2013
  • Lecture at Imperial College's 'Education Day' on innovative concepts for teaching in Nanoscience, 2010