Dr. Simon Titmuss

Lecturer PaLS Experimental
Research Theme:
Condensed Matter and Photonics
Research Group:
Soft Matter, Statistical Physics and Biophysics
Email address:
Telephone number:
+44 (0) 131 650 5267
School of Physics and Astronomy, James Clerk Maxwell Building, Peter Guthrie Tait Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3FD, United Kingdom

Research interests

Simon's research is in experimental approaches to tackle problems at the Physics & Life Sciences interface.

Specifically the application of neutron scattering and reflectivity to investigate a physical basis for the life and death of bacteria and the mechanical and self-assembly properties of viruses.

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has in 2013 been placed on the National Risk Register and we are trying to identify unifying physical principles in the way in which peptides involved in controlling bacterial growth and cell division interact with bacterial membranes and how this is modulated by the cell's metabolic state via membrane potential.

Viruses have unique mechanical properties: they have to be strong enough to withstand the stresses involved in reaching their target in a host but fragile enough that disassembly and release of genetic material can be triggered by physicochemical stimulli on reaching the target. We are investigating the physical principles behind this using a combination of high resolution neutron spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations.

Simon's background is in soft condensed matter physics, having previously worked a range of systems involving polymer functionalized interfaces: Pickering emulsions stabilized by responsive polymer brush functionalized gold nanoparticles; stealth viruses formed from polymer coated Adenovirus; planar gold and sapphire interfaces functionalized with responsive polymer brushes. 

The current biological physics problems are approached from this soft condensed matter physics background.


  • I am Course Organizer and Lecturer for Biological Physics (PHYS11040, Level 11, year 4/5)
  • I teach on the pre-Honours Physics of Fields & Matter course (PHYS08046, Level 8, year 2)
  • I run a Group project "Neutron sources for soft matter and biological physics" (PHYS11011, Level 11, year 4)
  • I am a Personal Tutor

Research outputs

  1. Reduced adhesion between cells and substrate confers selective advantage in bacterial colonies DOI
    Craig Watson, Paul Hush, Joshua Williams, Angela Dawson, Nikola Ojkic, Simon Titmuss and Bartlomiej Waclaw, Europhysics Letters (2018)
  2. Neutron Reflectivity as a Tool for Physics-Based Studies of Model Bacterial Membranes DOI
    Robert D Barker, Laura E McKinley and Simon Titmuss, 915, p. 261-282 (2016)
  3. Temperature-and pH-Dependent Shattering: Insoluble Fatty Ammonium Phosphate Films at Water–Oil Interfaces
    Joe Forth, David French, Andrei Gromov, Stephen King, Simon Titmuss, Kathryn Lord, Mike Ridout, Pete Wilde and Paul Clegg, Langmuir, p. 9312-9324 (2015)
  4. Interactions of hyaluronan layers with similarly-charged surfaces: the effect of divalent cations
    Lei Jiang, Simon Titmuss and Jacob Klein, Langmuir, 29, 39 , p. 12194-12202 (2013)
  5. Structure and Collapse of a Surface-Grown Strong Polyelectrolyte Brush on Sapphire DOI
    Iain E. Dunlop, Robert K. Thomas, Simon Titmuss, Victoria Osborne, Steve Edmondson, Wilhelm T. S. Huck and Jacob Klein, Langmuir, 28, 6 , p. 3187-3193 (2012)
  6. Structure of pH-Responsive Polymer Brushes Grown at the Gold-Water Interface: Dependence on Grafting Density and Temperature DOI
    Haidong Jia, Andrew Wildes and Simon Titmuss, Macromolecules, 45, 1 , p. 305-312 (2012)
  7. A Neutron Reflectivity Study of Surfactant Self-Assembly in Weak Polyelectrolyte Brushes at the Sapphire-Water Interface DOI
    Mauro Moglianetti, John R. P. Webster, Steve Edmondson, Steven P. Armes and Simon Titmuss, Langmuir, 27, 8 , p. 4489-4496 (2011)
  8. Neutron Reflectivity Study of the Structure of pH-Responsive Polymer Brushes Grown from a Macroinitiator at the Sapphire-Water Interface DOI
    Mauro Moglianetti, John R. P. Webster, Steve Edmondson, Steven P. Armes and Simon Titmuss, Langmuir, 26, 15 , p. 12684-12689 (2010)
  9. Small Angle Neutron Scattering Study of Polyelectrolyte Brushes Grafted to Well-Defined Gold Nanoparticle Interfaces DOI
    Haidong Jia, Isabelle Grillo and Simon Titmuss, Langmuir, 26, 10 , p. 7482-7488 (2010)
  10. Bottle-brush polymers: Adsorption at surfaces and interactions with surfactants DOI
    P. M. Claesson, R. Makuska, I. Varga, R. Meszaros, S. Titmuss, P. Linse, J. Skov Pedersen and Cosima Stubenrauch, Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, 155, 1-2 , p. 50-57 (2010)
Last updated: 19 Feb 2018 at 21:11