Dr Melanie Britton BSc, MA, PhD, MRSC

Dr Melanie Britton

School of Chemistry
Reader in Chemical Imaging
Deputy Head of School

Contact details

School of Chemistry
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Melanie’s research is at the interface between chemistry, chemical engineering and physics. She has 15 years experience of developing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) experiments to probe chemistry and flow in complex systems and has published over 30 papers and book chapters in this area.

Melanie is also a part of the Birmingham Plastics Network, an interdisciplinary team of more than 40 academics working together to shape the fate and sustainable future of plastics.  This unique team brings together chemists, environmental scientists, engineers, philosophers, linguists, economists, artists, writers, lawyers, and experts in many other fields, to holistically address the global plastics problem.

Group web pages


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2020
  • MA Cambridge University, 2004
  • PhD in Physical Chemistry, University of Surrey, 1995
  • BSc (Hons) in Chemistry, RHC, London University, 1992
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry


Melanie Britton obtained a BSc in Chemistry from London University (RHC) in 1992 and a PhD from the University of Surrey in 1995, under the supervision of Prof Les Sutcliffe and Dr Duncan Gillies. Her thesis was on NMR spectroscopy of traction fluids. 

Following her PhD, she was a postdoctoral research fellow with Prof Paul Callaghan FRS at Massey University in New Zealand, working on Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the rheology of wormlike micelles.

She then moved back to the UK to work with Prof Ken Packer FRS at Nottingham University, looking at 2D relaxation resolved propagators for flow in porous media. In 2000, she received an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship, where she worked with the group of Prof Lynn Gladden FRS at the Magnetic Resonance Research Centre in the University of Cambridge, where she developed MRI methods for visualising Chemical Waves and Patterns.

In 2004, she became a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at Birmingham University followed by Senior Lecturer in 2011 and Reader in 2020.  Melanie is Deputy Head of School


Teaching Programmes

  • Year 1-3 physical chemistry courses in all Chemistry BSc and MSci degree programmes.



  • In operando visualisation techniques
  • MRI of Batteries
  • NMR characterisation of ionic liquids and ionic liquid analogues
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Flow visualisation and imaging
  • MRI of electrochemical systems
  • Non-linear/autocatalytic chemical reactions.
  • Chemical pattern formation.
  • MRI contrast agents.
  • Chemical imaging.
  • Reaction-diffusion and reaction-diffusion-advection phenomena .
  • NMR studies of microemulsions.
  • NMR spectroscopy/NMR relaxation..
  • Rheology of complex fluids.
  • Wormlike micelles/ Microemulsions.
  • Chemical fingering.


Melanie’s group specialises in the development of MRI for visualising electrochemical processes in operando, including batteries, metal surface finishing and corrosion. She also specialises in flow visualisation techniques to probe the rheology and dynamics of complex fluids, such as ionic liquids and micelle solutions, leading to an understanding of the molecular dynamics that underpin their bulk (macroscopic) behaviour. Using these methods, they have investigated how chemical reactions can couple with diffusion and flow to produce chemical gradients, waves and patterns. Understanding the coupling of chemical reaction with transport processes is of fundamental importance in electrochemical technologies, fast moving consumer goods, reaction engineering and understanding many biological processes. Her group also develop MRI contrast agents and probes for the visualisation of chemical reactions/processes and disease biomarkers.

Other activities

  • Member of the Executive Committee of the International Division of Spatially Resolved Magnetic Resonance. She was the first woman to chair this Executive Committee (2017 - 2021).
  • Elected Member of the Board of Trustees for the International Euromar Conference (2021 – 24)
  • Member of International Scientific Reviewer Panel for the Australian National Imaging Facility (2021 – 24).
  • Member of the Scientific Steering committee for the Division of Magnetic Resonance in Porous Media - Groupement Ampere (2009 - 11 and 2014 -16)
  • Chair of the Royal Society of Chemistry NMR Discussion Group (NMRDG) (2023-25)
  • Member of Editorial Board for Scientific Reports (Nature)
  • Member of Advisory Editorial Board of Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry


Recent papers:

  • Ralf F. Ziesche, Thomas M. M. Heenan, Pooja Kumari, Jarrod Williams, Weiqun Li, Matthew E. Curd, Timothy L. Burnett, Ian Robinson, Dan J. L. Brett, Matthias J. Ehrhardt, Paul Quinn, Layla B. Mehdi, Philip J. Withers, Melanie M. Britton, Nigel D. Browning, Paul R. Shearing “Multi-Dimensional Characterization of Battery Materials” Advanced Energy Materials (2023) 2300103.
  • Katie L. Fegan, Naomi C. Green, Melanie M. Britton, Asif J. Iqbal and Lauren E. J. Thomas-Seale “Design and Simulation of the Biomechanics of Multi-Layered Composite Poly(Vinyl Alcohol) Coronary Artery Grafts” Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, 9, (2022) 883179
  • “Probing the influence of Zn and water on solvation and dynamics in ethaline and reline deep eutectic solvents by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance” Yasmeen M. AlZahrani and Melanie M. Britton* Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 23 (2021) 21913
  • I. Markale, G. M. Cimmarusti, M. M. Britton, J. Jimenez-Martinez “Phase Saturation Control on Mixing-Driven Reactions in 3D Porous Media” Environ. Sci. Technol. 55 (2021) 8742-8752.
  • J. P. Crolla, M. M. Britton, D. M. Espino, L. E. J. Thomas-Seale “The orthotropic viscoelastic characterisation of sub-zero 3D-printed poly(vinyl alcohol) cryogel” MRS Adv 6 (2021) 467-471.
  • G. M. Cimmarusti, A. Shastry, M. N. Boone, V Cnudde, K. Braeckman, A. D. M. Brooker, E. S. J. Robles and M. M. Britton* “Characterization of Open-Cell Sponges via Magnetic Resonance and X-ray Tomography” Materials 14 (2021) 2187
  • E.S. Thompson, M. Declercq, P. Saveyn, V. Guida, E.S.J. Robles, M.M. Britton, Phase separation and collapse in almost density matched depletion induced colloidal gels in presence and absence of air bubbles: An MRI imaging study, J Colloid Interface Sci 582 (2020) 201-211 10.1016/j.jcis.2020.07.148
  • L.N. Slope, M.G. Hill, C.F. Smith, P. Teare, F.J. de Cogan, M.M. Britton, A.F.A. Peacock, Tuning coordination chemistry through the second sphere in designed metallocoiled coils, Chem. Comm. 56 (2020) 3729-3732 10.1039/c9cc08189e
  • J.M. Bray, C.L. Doswell, G.E. Pavlovskaya, L. Chen, B. Kishore, H. Au, H. Alptekin, E. Kendrick, M.M. Titirici, T. Meersmann, M.M. Britton, Operando visualisation of battery chemistry in a sodium-ion battery by Na-23 magnetic resonance imaging, Nat. Commun. 11 (2020) 2083 ARTN 2083 10.1038/s41467-020-15938-x
  • H.E. Abbott, J.C. Hey, M.M. Britton, R.L. Johnston, Effects of Hydration on the Conformational Behavior of Flexible Molecules with Two Charge Centers, J. Phys. Chem. A 124 (2020) 5323-5330 10.1021/acs.jpca.0c02004.
  • A. Valentini, S. Bakalis, K. Gkatzionis, G. Palazzo, N. Cioffi, C. Di Franco, E. Robles, A. Brooker, M.M. Britton, Combined Use of Streaming Potential and UV/Vis To Assess Surface Modification of Fabrics via Soil Release Polymers, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 58 (2019) 14839-14847 10.1021/acs.iecr.9b02604.
  • E. Summerton, M.J. Hollamby, C.S. Le Duff, E.S. Thompson, T. Snow, A.J. Smith, C. Jones, J. Bettiol, S. Bakalis, M.M. Britton, Nuclear magnetic resonance and small-angle X-ray scattering studies of mixed sodium dodecyl sulfate and N,N-dimethyldodecylamine N-oxide aqueous systems performed at low temperatures, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 535 (2019) 1-7
  • E.S. Thompson, P. Saveyn, M. Declercq, J. Meert, V. Guida, C.D. Eads, E.S.J. Robles, M.M. Britton, Characterisation of heterogeneity and spatial autocorrelation in phase separating mixtures using Moran’s I, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 513 (2018) 180-187
  • E. Summerton, M.J. Hollamby, G. Zimbitas, T. Snow, A.J. Smith, J. Sommertune, J. Bettiol, C. Jones, M.M. Britton, S. Bakalis, The impact of N,N-dimethyldodecylamine N-oxide (DDAO) concentration on the crystallisation of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) systems and the resulting changes to crystal structure, shape and the kinetics of crystal growth, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 527 (2018) 260-266 10.1016/j.jcis.2018.05.058.
  • M.J. Hollamby, C.F. Smith, M.M. Britton, A.E. Danks, Z. Schnepp, I. Grillo, B.R. Pauw, A. Kishimura, T. Nakanishi, The aggregation of an alkyl-C-60 derivative as a function of concentration, temperature and solvent type, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 20 (2018) 3373-3380 10.1039/c7cp06348b.
  • M.M. Britton, MRI of chemical reactions and processes, Progress in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy 101 (2017) 51-70

Melanie's papers 

View all publications in research portal