Susan Perkin
Fellow and Tutor in Chemistry

Another focus in my research  lab is ‘nano-friction’: we want to understand how molecules behave when subjected to shear stress, and how modifying the chemistry of a surface alters its lubrication and friction properties.


I am Fellow and Tutor in Physical Chemistry at Trinity College, and Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford.

I studied for my MChem and DPhil degrees at Oxford University. Prior to my current appointment at Oxford, I was RCUK Academic Fellow at University College London (2007-2012), and Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford (2005-2008).



I teach all areas of Physical Chemistry for the undergraduate degree course in chemistry. I meet students in small groups for weekly tutorials, and in larger groups for problem classes and revision classes. As the senior chemistry tutor I coordinate the teaching of chemistry in Trinity and oversee chemistry students’ progress and course requirements.

In the chemistry department, I give lectures each year on States of Matter (first year), Liquids & Solutions (second year) and Soft Condensed Matter (third year). I also run an active research laboratory, where I supervise students in their Part II (fourth) year and students working towards their DPhil.



I run a laboratory in the chemistry department where I work with a team of students and post-doctoral scientists studying the surface (or interfacial) properties of new liquid and solid materials. At present we are particularly interested in ‘ionic liquids’: pure salts that are liquid under ambient conditions. Ionic liquids have various properties such as electrical conductivity and non-volatility that mark them out as potential electrolytes for energy-storage devices. Using a custom-built apparatus we investigate how ionic liquids behave when confined to nanoscopic spaces, and how they respond to various electrical perturbations, in order to understand their electrolytic properties. More details about my research interests can be found on the departmental webpage.


Selected Publications

  • Quantized friction across ionic liquid thin films. Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics, (2013), 15, 15317-15320
  • Long-ranged attraction between disordered heterogeneous surfaces. Phys. Rev. Lett. (2012)
  • Self-assembly in the electrical double layer of ionic liquid. Chemical Communications, (2011) 47, 6572.