Medical and Biological Physics

Applying physics expertise to answer the big questions about life and improve medical technology.

Members: Dr Sergey Saveliev, Dr Boris Chesca, Dr Sarah Bugby

Physical processes govern all aspects of life in the universe, including life itself. This theme is interdisciplinary, physicists within the department collaborate with mathematicians, biologists, chemists, clinicians and more to improve our understanding of the behaviour of living organisms and to improve patient care with novel technologies.

Modelling for medicine and biology

Project members: Dr Sergey Saveliev

To understand how to control the transport of nanoparticles is critically important for both medical treatment (drug delivery, cancer cell mobility suppression) and modern nano-fluid technology for electronics and other applications. The department has a long-standing expertise in noisy modelling transport at nanoscales for nanoparticles, bacteria and artificial swimmers.

The Department works also on modelling single neural response from Monkey visual cortex. This helps us understand how visual cortex processes visual information and select different stimulus content. This work is performed in collaboration with Salk Institute for Biological Studies. In addition, the department work on modelling brain neural dynamics in collaboration with Loughborough Mathematical Department.

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A Geiseler, P Hänggi, F Marchesoni, C Mulhern, S Savel'ev Chemotaxis of artificial microswimmers in active density waves Physical Review E 94 (1), 012613

AS Pawar, S Gepshtein, S Savel’ev, TD Albright Mechanisms of spatiotemporal selectivity in cortical area MT Neuron 101 (3), 514-527. e2

Ultra-sensitive superconducting magnetic sensors

Project members: Dr Boris Chesca, Dr Daniel John

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-invasive technique used to map electrical signals in the brain for surgical planning or research. The tiny magnetic field produced by these signals is measured with an array of SQUIDs – superconducting quantum interference devices. Conventional SQUIDs must operate at temperatures of 4.2K (cooled with liquid helium) for optimum performance, and this limits the use of MEG to very few specialist centres. By incorporating multiple SQUIDs and flux focusers into a single sensor, we have developed devices which are just as sensitive and have better noise performance but that can be operated at 77K (cooled with liquid nitrogen). These have the potential to bring MEG, and related techniques such as magnetocardiography and low field MRI, into far wider use.

Find out more:


Nature 526,Page: 613Date published:, (29 October 2015).
American Institute of Physics
Spectrum IEEE


J. Cox, B. Chesca, D. John, S. Savelev and C.J. Mellor, Vortex ratchets based on asymmetric arrays of Josephson junctions, J. Stat. Mech. 114001 (2019).

B. Chesca, D. John, R. Pollett, M. Gaifullin, J. Cox, C. Mellor, S. Savelev, Magnetic field tunable vortex diode made of YBa2Cu3O7- Josephson junction asymmetrical arrays, Appl. Phys. Lett. 111, 062602 (2017).

B. Chesca, D. John and C.J. Mellor, Flux-coherent series SQUID array magnetometers operating above 77K with superior white flux noise than single-SQUIDs at 4.2 K, Appl. Phys. Lett. 107, 162602 (2015).



Inventors: Boris Chesca, Daniel John
GB patent: GB2540146. Date of publication: 11 January 2017.
Also awarded in Europe (EP3320357), US (US-2018-0164385-AI), internationally (WO2017006079) and pending in Canada.


Feb 2014; Title: Design, fabrication and testing of ultra-sensitive magnetic sensors based on Josephson junctions; Sponsor: HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Fund) and Loughborough Enterprise; Project LU code: S11068.

Jan 2018; Title: Implementation of LU’s ultra-sensitive high temperature SQUID array sensor technology into CTF MEG’s brain imaging devices.; Sponsor: HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Fund) and Loughborough Enterprise; Project LU code: S11519.

Portable Gamme Imaging for Nuclear Medicine

Project members: Dr Sarah Bugby

Nuclear medicine uses radioactive tracers to diagnose and treat disease. For gamma imaging (radioscintigraphy), a tracer that produces gamma radiation is introduced to the body. The tracer is targeted to the process being investigated (radioiodine for thyroid function for example), the gamma radiation passes through the body and is imaged by an external camera. Clinical gamma cameras are large devices, taking up a whole room within a specialist nuclear medicine department. These would be impossible to bring to patient in intensive care or the operating room. We are working with new sensors and detector materials to develop portable gamma imaging that can be brought to the patient’s bedside, or used during surgery to help improve patients’ wellbeing.

Find out more:


Physics world
BBC East Midlands


KA Koch-Mehrin, JE Lees and SL Bugby, A spectroscopic Monte-Carlo model to simulate the response of pixelated CdTe-based detectors, NIM A 164241 (2020)

SL Bugby, JE Lees, AC Perkins, Hybrid intraoperative imaging techniques in radioguided surgery: present clinical applications and future outlook, Clin Trans Imaging 2281-5872 (2017).

SL Bugby, JE Lees, BS Bhatia, AC Perkins, Characterisation of a high resolution small field of view portable gamma camera, Physica Medica 1120-1797 (2014).

Soft Matter Systems

Project members: Marco Mazza, Department of Mathematical Sciences supervises physics student projects.

Using theory and simulations to investigate soft matter systems, he investigates the driving mechanisms of biological systems from bacteria to biofilms.

Credit: G. Schkolnik & M. G. Mazza