Living Systems Institute

Vollmer Group

Laboratory web site:

PHD STUDENTSHIPS – Please contact

Research themes in Molecular Nano and Quantum Sensors & Systems

Biosensing with Optical Microcavities: The single-molecule technique enables ground-breaking advances in how we use light to study biomolecules and their biochemical reactions

This book will guide you through the fundamentals of whispering gallery mode sensing and label-free sensing technologies: Texbook Optical Whispering Gallery Modes for Biosensing, 2nd Edition.

Quantum Optical Sensors for Quantum Biology: Quantum mechanical effects are often hidden behind the ensemble average of macroscopic samples. What is required to facilitate a rapid expansion of this potent field are sensors capable of directly probing the biological quantum phenomena at the single-molecule level. We develop quantum biosensors that overcome measurement noise to directly probe quantum processes of single molecules that are thought to play decisive roles in macroscopic biological phenomena: Towards Quantum Optical Bioscience Laboratories on Chip.

Molecular Mechanics Initiative: is a cutting-edge research programme undertaken by Professor Frank Vollmer and his team, aiming to make a step change in how we detect, analyse and manipulate molecules at the ultimate single-molecule level: MMI web site.

Ultrachiral: Chirality is a fundamental property of life, making chiral sensing and analysis crucial to numerous scientific subfields of biology, chemistry, and medicine, and to the pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic, and food industries. The aim of ULTRACHIRAL is to revolutionize existing applications of chiral sensing, but also to instigate important new domains which require sensitivities beyond current limits

Nano-Chemistry of Single Molecules and Nanoparticles: We study chemical process that require single molecule sensors to reveal molecular interactions and transformations obscured in traditional analytical measurements that average over millions of molecules.

Photophysics of Microavities and Molecules: We investigate the light-matter interactions of whispering gallery modes and WGM micro-lasers, down to the level of photons, molecules and atoms.

Frank Vollmer is Professor in Biophysics, Molecular Nano and Quantum Sensing at the University of Exeter, UK. He obtained his Ph.D. in ‘Physics & Biology’ from the Rockefeller University in NYC, USA, in 2004. He was Rowland Fellow at Harvard University from 2004 to 2009, Scholar-in-Residence at the Wyss Institute at Harvard in 2010, Group Leader (untenured Associate Professor) at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Germany from 2011–2016 and Instructor in Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School where he directed a satellite laboratory from 2011– 2016. Since 2016 he is Professor in Biophysics at the School of Physics, University of Exeter, UK. He received the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2017 and in 2021 the Rosalind Franklin Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics (IoP). Since 2021 he is Fellow of the IoP.

Rosalind Franklin Medal and Prize

Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award

EPSRC Advanced Career Fellowship

Max Planck Research Group Award

Rowland Institute at Harvard Fellowship Award

Rockefeller University Alumni

Please register for our Single-Molecule Conference in November 2023:

Single-Molecule, Sensors and Nanosystems International Conference (