Welcome to the website of the Surface Forces Research Laboratory

Research group of Susan Perkin, Professor of Physical Chemistry

Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory

University of Oxford



We study the physics and physical chemistry of liquid electrolytes and ionic matter. Electrolytes are all around us (oceans) and within us (cellular media) and are of great importance in energy storage technologies (batteries). Yet from a molecular perspective electrolytes are rather special and complex, with many fundamentals still unresolved.  Our current interests include highly concentrated electrolytes, osmolytes, eutectic mixtures, ionic liquids/molten salts -- but we can be tempted to study all interesting liquids! We carry out experiments and analysis to investigate structural, dynamic, thermodynamic, electrochemical, and electrokinetic properties. We have particular expertise in measuring interaction forces using a surface force balance (SFB); this extraordinary technique allows deep insight into bulk and nano-confined materials. Most of our work is fundamental and curiosity-driven, but outcomes help to solve problems and generate greater understanding relevant to a range of applications including energy storage, bio-molecular interactions, and nanomaterials.  











Recent Publications

Bresme, F., Kornyshev, A., Perkin, S., Urbakh, M.
Electrotunable friction with ionic liquid lubricants
Nat. Mater. 2022,

Milnes-Smith, E., Stone, C.A., Willis, C.R., Perkin, S.
Surface Reconstruction of Fluoropolymers in Liquid Media
Langmuir 2022 38 (15), 4657-4668

Perez-Martinez, C. S., Groves, T., and Perkin, S.
Controlling adhesion using AC electric fields across fluid films​
J. Phys.: Cond. Matt. 2021, 3331LT02

Groves, T. S., Perez-Martinez, C. S., Lhermerout, R., and Perkin, S.
Surface forces and structure in a water-in-salt electrolyte
J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2021, 12, 6, 1702-

Hallett, J., Hayler, H., and Perkin, S.
Nanolubrication in Deep Eutectic Solvents
PCCP. 2020

Milnes-Smith, E. P., Stone, C.A., and Perkin, S.
A polymer coating which is sticky yet repulsive to water and slippery yet attractive for oils
Chem. Commun. 2020, 56, 2877-2880

Lhermerout, R. and Perkin, S.
A new methodology for a detailed investigation of quantized friction in ionic liquids
PCCP. 202022, 455-466

Smith, A.M., Hallett, J.E. and Perkin, S.
Solidification and superlubricity with molecular alkane films
PNAS  2019116(51), 25418-25423

More publications.