Dr. Karen Syres

Lecturer in Physics

School of Physical Sciences and Computing

Leighton Building, LE006

+44 (0) 1772 89 3580

Karen is a Lecturer in Physics in the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute. She joined UCLan in 2015 having previously worked at the University of Nottingham and The University of Manchester. Karen is a surface scientist investigating the physics at surfaces and interfaces specialising in the emerging area of liquid surfaces.

Full Profile

Karen was awarded a PhD in Physics by The University of Manchester in 2010. The title of her thesis was "Molecular Adsorption on TiO2 surfaces: Modelling Potential Biomedical and Photovoltaic Devices". This involved experimental work and computational modelling to understand fundamental interactions at surfaces with relevance to technological devices. Following her PhD, Karen won an award for a 1 year EPSRC funded “PhD Plus" scholarship which she also carried out at Manchester.

In 2011 Karen moved to the School of Chemistry at The University of Nottingham where she was employed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Here she investigated ionic liquid surfaces and their interaction with gas molecules with a view towards carbon capture applications.

In 2015 Karen joined the University of Central Lancashire as a Lecturer in Physics. She is currently contributing to the teaching of undergraduate physics courses and starting her own research group in the field of surface science.

Karen is interested in the physics at surfaces and interfaces, for example, structure, bonding and charge dynamics. She is particularly interested in the behaviour of ionic liquids at surfaces. Ionic liquids (ILs) consist solely of ions which are held together by a strong coulomb potential and have applications in gas capture, catalysis, lubrication and electrolyte in batteries and photovoltaic devices.

Many of the experiments Karen carries out are at European synchrotron facilities, including Diamond (UK), Elettra (Italy), Soleil (France) and MAX-Lab (Sweden). The experiments are carried out under ultra-high vacuum (UHV) using electron spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques. This fundamental understanding of the processes that occur at surfaces and interfaces is vital to improving or designing new technological devices.


PhD in Physics, The University of Manchester, 2010.
MPhys (Master of Physics), First Class Honours, The University of Manchester, 2006.


Cant, David, Syres, Karen, Lunt, Patrick, Radtke, Hanna, Treacy, Jon, Thomas, P. John, Lewis, Edward A., Haigh, Sarah J., O’Brien, Paul, Schulte, Karina, Bondino, Federica, Magnano, Elena and Flavell, Wendy R. (2015) Surface Properties of Nanocrystalline PbS Films Deposited at the Water–Oil Interface: A Study of Atmospheric Aging. Langmuir, 31 (4). pp. 1445-1453. ISSN 0743-7463 Item not available from this repository.

Jackman, Mark J., Syres, Karen, Cant, David J. H., Hardman, Samantha J. O. and Thomas, Andrew G. (2014) Adsorption of Dopamine on Rutile TiO2(110): A Photoemission and Near-Edge X-ray Absorption Fine Structure Study. Langmuir, 30 (29). pp. 8761-8769. Item not available from this repository.

Spencer, Ben F., Cliffe, Matthew J., Graham, Darren M., Hardman, Samantha J. O., Seddon, Elaine A., Syres, Karen, Thomas, Andrew G., Sirotti, Fausto, Silly, Mathieu G., Akhtar, Javeed, O'Brien, Paul, Fairclough, Simon M., Smith, Jason M., Chattopadhyay, Swapan and Flavell, Wendy R. (2014) Dynamics in next-generation solar cells: time-resolved surface photovoltage measurements of quantum dots chemically linked to ZnO (101¯0). Faraday Discussions, 171 . pp. 275-298. Item not available from this repository.

Syres, Karen, Thomas, Andrew G., Graham, Darren M., Spencer, Ben F., Flavell, Wendy R., Jackman, Mark J. and Dhanak, Vinod R. (2014) Adsorption and stability of malonic acid on rutile TiO2 (110), studied by near edge X-ray absorption fine structure and photoelectron spectroscopy. Surface Science, 626 . pp. 14-20. ISSN 00396028 Item not available from this repository.

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  • Associate member of the Institute of Physics

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

  • AP3841 Condensed Matter Physics

External Activities

  • Committee member of the Institute of Physics Thin Films and Surfaces Group
  • Chair of organising committee for the Surface Science Summer School 2016 (Cambridge)


Ionic liquid interactions at surfaces and interfaces: Ionic liquids (ILs) consist of ions held together by a strong Coulomb potential and can remain liquid up to around 400 K. The combination of cations and anions can be tuned to create ILs with desired properties. ILs are being investigated for applications such as gas capture, catalysis, lubrication and electrolyte in batteries and photovoltaic devices. ILs have very low vapour pressures and as a result can be studied in ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions. This allows us to investigate the interactions of ILs at surfaces and interfaces using UHV surface science techniques.

Understanding fundamental processes in photovoltaic devices: There is a need for cheaper solar technologies to meet our future energy demands so new materials and designs must be explored. Oxide materials such as ZnO and TiO2 are being studied as photoanode materials with various light harvesting molecules attached to them. In order to determine the most promising designs we investigate the structure, bonding and charge dynamics at the interface between the oxide surface and the molecules.