Dr Paul Barker
Fellow in Chemistry
Senior Lecturer in Chemistry

BSc (Imperial), DPhil (Oxon)

My research involves the molecular engineering of metalloproteins for electronic and photochemical devices. As our understanding of the fundamentals of biomolecular structure and function improves every year, the prospects for designing and constructing unnatural proteins and enzymes that will be useful technologically, become evermore tangible. We now know how nature organises metallic cofactors into conducting chains or wires, and therefore I aim to use similar principles for the construction of self-assembling, unnatural molecular electronic circuits that respond to a variety of chemical signals. My goals are to produce generic, transducer proteins that convert biochemical signals into electronic (current) signals, and vice versa; something nature doesn’t do. As such these will be protein-based transistors that could form the basis of a new generation of biosensors and, potentially, biochemical computers. My recent work has been directed at trying to understand how protein conformation reacts to charge transfer processes that occur at metal ions, which bound to the protein. This has improved our fundamental understanding of the interaction between protein folding and metal binding, in the particular context of iron porphyrin proteins. These fundamental advances are crucial to our current work on the construction of novel DNA binding cytochromes, haem binding antibodies and self-assembling arrays of porphyrins that will have applications in light harvesting devices and bio-fuel cells. This is a highly interdisciplinary field of chemistry and work in my lab uses molecular biology, protein chemistry, electrochemistry, organometallic synthesis, single molecule fluorescence spectroscopy and Scanning Probe Microscopies, in collaboration with other members of the Chemistry department, the Cavendish Laboratory and the Centre for Nanoscience.

Synthesis and extensive characterisation of phosphorus doped graphite.
PD Matthews, TC King, H Glass, PCMM Magusin, GJ Tustin, PAC Brown, JA Cormack, R García-Rodríguez, M Leskes, SE Dutton, PD Barker, FM Grosche, A Alavi, CP Grey, DS Wright – RSC Advances (2016) 6, 62140 (DOI: 10.1039/c6ra08639j)

How to make a porphyrin flip: dynamics of asymmetric porphyrin oligomers.
C Shang, JM Philpott, N Bampos, PD Barker, DJ Wales
– Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP (2015) 17, 27094 (DOI: 10.1039/C5CP04636J)

Investigating the mechanisms of amylolysis of starch granules by solution-state NMR.
AJ Baldwin, DL Egan, FJ Warren, PD Barker, CM Dobson, PJ Butterworth, PR Ellis
– Biomacromolecules (2015) 16, 1614 (DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.5b00190)

Theory and Practice: Bulk Synthesis of C 3 B and its H 2 - and Li-Storage Capacity.
TC King, PD Matthews, H Glass, JA Cormack, JP Holgado, M Leskes, JM Griffin, OA Scherman, PD Barker, CP Grey, SE Dutton, RM Lambert, G Tustin, A Alavi, DS Wright
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl (2015) 54, 5919 (DOI: 10.1002/anie.201412200)

Selective lability of ruthenium(II) arene amino acid complexes.
TG Scrase, MJ O'Neill, AJ Peel, PW Senior, PD Matthews, H Shi, SR Boss, PD Barker
– Inorg Chem (2015) 54, 3118 (DOI: 10.1021/ic502051y)