Andrew Pike Research Group


Based in the Chemical Nanoscience Laboratory (CNL) in the School of Chemistry, and along with Dr Eimer Tuite we form the Bioinspired Molecular Engineering Group (BioMEG) at Newcastle University. We have a particular interest in the synthesis, structure, and function of DNA.

As a group, our research areas include DNA-directed materials design, DNA-directed sensor applications, and dynamic DNA nanotechnology. Recent  projects have a focus on designer DNA synthesis, integration of DNA with surfaces, and artificial nucleobases for assembly of functional architectures.

Our company, Nunabio Ltd, delivers DNA samples of bespoke sequence and length. In particular, we focus on the incorporation of 6-thio-guanosine in short oligonucleotides at a fraction of the cost of regular suppliers, and the custom synthesis of repeat sequence DNA up to 20,000 base pairs. Contact us for further details.

Recent News: 

Liz Hierons joins the group for her MPhil research project

Liz joined the group from Monday 24th April 2017 to start a synthetic research project on some modified nucleotides to build functional designer DNA. Previously she completed her undergraduate studies in Natural Sciences at the University of Bath.

Invited talk at the International Symposium on Engineering Neo-biomimetics VII, Tokyo, Japan

Andrew gave a talk at the International Symposium on Engineering Neo-biomimetics VII in Tokyo titled:  “Artificial nucleobases for designer DNA nanomaterials”. Visiting Japan, Feb 13-19th 2017, Andrew also attended the worlds largest Nanotech EXPO  at Tokyo Big Sight and collaborated with Prof Kuniharuu Ijiro at Hokkaido University.

Samantha Lunn awarded travel funding to continue collaboration with Prof Christian Nijhuis at NUS, Singapore

Sam’s application for travel funding (Santander Mobility Award) to return to the National University of Singapore and complete a joint project with Prof Christian Nijhuis on electron transport through DNA-based SAMs on silicon has been successful. Sam will visit NUS in the summer and at the same time present a poster at the ICMAT-2017  meeting, June 18-23rd, 2017.

Raushan Nurdillayeva joins the group as a BolashakVisiting Scholar (Kazakhstan)

Dr Nurdillayeva arrives to spend six months working on a range of DNA characterisation techniques as part of the Kazakhstan Bolashak Visiting Scholar programme, she will pursue a research project on the electrical characterisation of DNA inspired nano-materials, jointly supervised by Dr Benjamin Horrocks.

Invited talk at the Self-Assembly and Molecular Electronics Meeting 2016, SAME, Aalborg, Denmark

Andrew presented work from the Bioinspired Molecular Engineering Group as an invited talk at the 3rd International Conference on Self-Assembly and Molecular Electronics, SAME, November 16-18th 2016.

Colette Whitfield awarded PhD on “Enzymatic Synthesis of  designer DNA”

15th November 2016, Colette successfully defended her PhD under the examination of Prof Thomas Carell (Munich) and Prof Mike Waring (Newcastle). She published her work in Angew Chemie and has submitted two further papers. Congratulations Colette!

New major funding awarded

The government-backed Biomedical Catalyst programme announced major funding for the ground-breaking Q-CANCER project which will integrate QuantuMDx Group’s rapid on-chip lab processes and develop the first sub-20 minute tumour profiler. When commercialized within the next 3 years, the device will have a dramatic impact on the rapid and accurate diagnosis and staging of cancer. Q-CANCER has the potential to ease the suffering and prolong the lives of the 12.7m newly diagnosed cancer sufferers, globally, by enabling surgeons to immediately remove most, if not all of the tumour and oncologists to prescribe the correct treatment regime according to the type of cancer developed.

The £2.8m project, with £1.4m awarded by the Biomedical Catalyst, will further develop QuantuMDx Group’s platform technology to build a low cost, fully integrated, sample-to-result benchtop device that will enable either histopathologists themselves or lab technicians, to perform multiplex genotyping and tumour staging and profiling, within minutes.

We will be providing the chemistry solutions to the immobilisation and DNA target binding aspects of the project and will be recruiting up to two PDRAs to work on this project from January 2013. Please contact me,, for further details.

Ferrocene modified silicon showing ambipolar FET behaviour

Diagram of Ferrocene modified silicon showing ambipolar FET behaviour 

As revealed for the first time by in situ scanning tunnelling spectroscopy (STS), ferrocene-modified Si(111) substrates show ambipolar field effect transistor (FET) behaviour upon electrolyte gating. This work was performed in collaboration with Prof. Thomas Wandlowski (University of Bern) and demonstrates the potential for developing molecular based memory systems from ferrocene modified silicon surfaces. In other words, applying a sufficiently positive potential to the silicon substrate transformsferrocene to ferrocenium, which is equivalent to the change of a bit of information from the ‘‘0’’ to the ‘‘1’’ state.This redox process is reversible, and as a consequence one mayerase the stored charge and return the device to its initial state.

We successfully demonstrated the doping of asilicon surface with electrochemically active ferrocene moietiescovalently attached to n-Si(111). The in situ STS study demonstrated unexpected ambipolar FET behaviour of the Si-ferrocene hybrid sample. Control experiments with electrochemicallyinert octene samples show convincingly that allenhancement effects observed in the tunnelling current response are directly related to the presence of the redoxactiveferrocene unit.<.

You can read more about this work here: Artem Mishchenko, Mufida Abdualla, Alexander Rudnev, Yongchun Fu, Andrew R. Pike and Thomas Wandlowski Chem. Commun., 2011, 47, 9807-9809


Click” modification of DNA templated nanowires

Diagram of “Click” modification of DNA templated nanowires 

DNA templated nanowires of a pentynyl-modified poly2-(2-thienyl)-pyrrole undergo functionalisation via “click chemistry” and retain their 1D-nanostructure and conductive properties.

This work was largely performed by Jennifer Hannant, Joe Hedley and Jonny Pate as part of their PhD and MChem research projects.

Here we report the preparation of a conducting DNA-based nanowire system that can be readily functionalised. The approach uses individual strands of DNA to template thegrowth of a conducting polymerfrom monomers of N-pentynyl-2-(2-thienyl)-pyrrole. The resulting supramolecularpolymer/DNA material is formed as nanowires which can undergo functionalisation using ‘‘click’’ chemistry. Through EFM studieswe confirm that the polymer/DNA nanowires are electrically conducting and that they remain conductive after functionalisation via the ‘‘click’’ reaction.

This methodology has potential for the development of conductive nanowires as sensing elements with a wide range of applications; the azido derivative of a receptor group is simply‘‘clicked’’ onto the nanowire sensor/transducer. Conducting polymer nanowires bring the advantage of significantly enhanced sensitivity over an electrode/polymer-film system due to the massively increased surface/volume ratio. Therefore changes in the conductivity of the polymer/DNA nanowirehybrid system described here may hold potential for use in molecular electronics or even single molecule detection.

You can read more about this work here: Jennifer Hannant, Joseph H. Hedley, Jonathan Pate, Adam Walli, Said A. Farha Al-Said, Miguel A. Galindo, Bernard A. Connolly, Benjamin R. Horrocks, Andrew Houlton and Andrew R. Pike  Chem. Commun., 2010, 46, 5870-5872