Research Perspective and Grant Funding Success for Cockroft Group

From Nanopore Modification to Molecular Machines

Professor Scott Cockroft and final-year PhD student Dominic Cairns-Gibson have had their Perspective covering nanopore modification published in Chemical Science. Nanopore technology is a powerful tool for single-molecule studies and has been utilised in a range of applications: from biomimetic ion-selective channels to handheld-devices capable of sequencing single DNA molecules. The Perspective, “Functionalised nanopores: chemical and biological modifications”, looks at how chemical, biological, and solid-state modifications to nanopores have allowed for tailoring of nanopore functionalities.


Biology has evolved remarkable proteins that span the membranes surrounding cells. Over the last three decades some of these membrane-spanning pore proteins have been repurposed as sensors capable of detecting single molecules. Man-made solid-state nanopores have also been developed in parallel… While biological pores are less stable than their solid-state equivalents, they present numerous handles for synthetic modification to suit a particular application. In this perspective, we look at how biological, chemical, and solid-state aspects have converged to yield highly functionalised hybrid nanopores with bespoke functionalities.



Nanopore technology is an exciting area of research, with many advancements occurring over a relatively short timeframe. With the Perspective covering the achievements and advancements made in the field of nanopore technology, it will be valuable for researchers in this and related areas.

Nanopore technology is advancing rapidly, and what a few years ago seemed like science-fiction is now becoming a reality… This perspective highlights how the amalgamation of different approaches and disciplines can be extremely advantageous in the development of new technologies.


Dominic began writing the Perspective during the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020 and went on to co-author the final article with Professor Cockroft, remaining key to the paper writing process.

The writing process for the perspective has been far, far longer than I expected. What started as a lockdown project to keep myself busy has gone through countless revisions and is now something I am immensely proud of. It is amazing to see my name as a first author on a paper after so many months of work.

Working on the perspective with Scott has been great training in scientific writing and has really prepared me for finishing my thesis. Being involved in all steps of the process; from the selection of articles, to formatting, and responding to reviewers gave me insight into the peer review process.


Funding Success to Investigate Transmembrane Molecule Machines


Following on from the success of the freshly published Perspective, Professor Cockroft has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust grant to conduct closely related research. The grant will fund the development of transmembrane molecular machines which presents an exciting advancement in the field of nanopore technology.

As highlighted in Dom’s research perspective, the modification of biological nanopores presents huge potential for the development of future nanotechnologies. We are highly grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for the very recent award of a £400k 3-year Research Grant to develop transmembrane molecular machines using some of the chemistry featured in Dom’s review. As part of this programme, we are excited to initiate a new collaboration with the Horrocks group.

Indeed, the development and observation of molecular machines on the single-molecule level is a stand-out goal of functionalised nanopores that will be explored through this new collaboration.


Leverhulme Trust Grant Allows for Postdoctoral Research Positions

Two postdoctoral research positions have been funded for up to 3 years with the Leverhulme Trust grant awarded to Professor Cockroft; one of which is in collaboration with Dr Matthew Horrocks. If you are seeking a postdoctoral position and are interested in functionalised nanopores and/or molecules machines and have a background in synthetic supramolecular chemistry, path-clamp electrophysiology, or fluorescence microscopy then see the two adverts below.

Leverhulme Trust funded postdoctoral positions:

Application deadline for both: 31st January 2022.