Dr Melanie Britton BSc, MA, PhD, MRSC

Dr Melanie Britton

School of Chemistry
Reader in Chemical Imaging

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


  • 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 and in 2011 became Senior Lecturer.


Teaching Programmes

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



  • 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 specialise in the development of MRI 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 behaviour

Her group also work on methods for designing probes for the visualisation of chemical reactions/processes and disease biomarkers. Using these methods they have investigated how chemical reactions (typically autocatalytic reactions) can couple with diffusion and flow to produce chemical waves and patterns. Understanding the coupling of chemical reaction with transport processes is of importance in reactor engineering and understanding many biological processes

Other activities

  • Member of the Scientific Steering committee for the Division of Magnetic Resonance in Porous Media - Groupement Ampere (2009 - 11 and 2014 -16)
  • Treasurer for the Executive Board of the Division of Spatially Resolved Magnetic Resonance of the Ampere Society (2013 - )
  • Committee Member of the RSC NMR Discussion Group (NMRDG) (2011 - )


Recent papers:

  • 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