Sonia Antoranz Contera

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Sonia Antoranz Contera

Professor of Biological Physics



I am a physicist, currently I serve as Professor of Biological Physics at Oxford Physics Department. I am also the proud (and busy) mother of two little children.

My work lies at the interface of physics, biology and nanotechnology. I am an expert in atomic force microscopy of biological systems and I have a special focus on the role of mechanics in biology.
I am interested in the role of mechanics in bridging scales and in modulating transport and transmission of information, including through mechanoelectrical coupling in subcellular structures, cells and tissues.
We work on mechanics of cells, tissues, proteins and membranes and we design nanomaterials that mimic biological functions for bio/medical applications such as drug delivery or cell cultures. We are mainly dedicated to quantitative aspects of these applications (transport and mechanics).
I was founder, director and co-director of the Oxford Martin Institute of Nanoscience for Medicine at the Oxford Martin School from 2007 to 2015.
I am Fellow of Green Templeton College. I was also a Member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Nanotechnology 2014-2016 . I was a member of the Physical Sciences Strategy Advisory Team of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) of the UK. Currently I am the chair of the UKRI Physics of Life Advisory Board.
In 2017 I was elected Chair of Scanning Probe Microscopy section of the Royal Microscopical Society. As from 2018 I am an member of the Advisory Committee on Science and Innovation to the Andalusian Government (Spain)

Currently, I have three funded projects:

Leverhulme Trust: Nanomechanical aspects of plant cells wallswith Prof Ian Moore of Oxford Plant Sciences. Funded by the Leverhulme trust. Jacob Seifert's PhD is funded by this grant. He is a physicist and works between the Plant Sciences Department and the Physics Department on nm- resolution quantitative multifrequency mapping of elastic and viscous mechanical properties of living plant tissues.

BBSRC: Geometric-edge specification in cell growth mechanics and morphogenesis £729,180.57 from 1.10.2017 for 36 months. (With PI Ian Moore, Oxford Plant Sciences and, coI Antoine Jerusalem, Oxford Engineering)

EPSRC: Electrophysiological-mechanical coupled pulses in neural membranes: a new paradigm for clinical therapy of SCI and TBI (NeuroPulse) which is the winner of the EPSRC Healthcare technology challenges. Antoine Jerusalem (PI, Oxford Engineering), myself (co-I) with clinical partners in Oxford and Cambridge will be working on advanced uses of ultrasound to control neuronal function.

I am a frequent public speaker on the role that Physics and Nanotechnology should (and will!) play in the future of biology and medicine and I have published several pieces on nanotechnology for the general public, such as this one in WIRED magazine on six future forms, or this one on the World Economic Forum Agenda : Can nanotechnology reduce inequality?

I am a member of several international, multidisciplinary collaborations, such as the JSPS funded Core-to-Core programme on sensing devicesand the newly established International Brain Mechanics and Trauma Lab.
I am a member of QBIOX
I also collaborate with the Scenarios Programme of the Oxford Said Business School.

I graduated in Physics from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (93), then did graduate studies at Beijing Languages and Culture University (94-95) and worked as a researcher at the Czech Academy of Sciences with Prof. Zlatko Knor, one of the pioneers of atomic-scale imaging of surfaces (95, liquid-solid interfaces with STM).
Then I moved to Japan on a Japanese Government Monbushō scholarship and got my PhD from Osaka University's Dept. of Applied Physics, Graduate School of Engineering (2000, Layered materials/scanning probe microscopy, with Prof H Iwasaki as supervisor ).

In 2000 I was awarded an E.U. Fellowship to Japan at the Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research SANKEN, Osaka University (nanostructures in bio/nanoelectronics). Later, I became a Research Assistant Professor in 2002, at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre, University of Aarhus, Denmark. There I set up an AFM lab for biological experiments in Flemming Besenbacher's iNANO centre (HIV-1 RNA tertiary structure, Nanoscience and tissue engineering approaches to improved biocompatibility).
In 2003 I moved to Oxford University Bionanotechnology IRC (carbon nanotube biosensors, bionanointerfaces, and biophysics of membrane proteins, scanning probe microscopy).

In 2007 I became a lecturer and RCUK Academic Fellow at Oxford Physics and in 2008 started the Oxford Martin Institute of Nanoscience for Medicine at the Oxford Martin School.

I work with labs all over the world and I have been a visiting professor at SANKEN in Osaka University, Kwazulu-Natal University Medical Faculty in South Africa, to set AFMs for HIV research, and at Tabata's lab at Tokyo University's Centre for BioNano Integration for application of THz spectroscopy to biological membranes; I have had research stays at Ando's high-speed AFM lab in Kanazawa University and Moscow Lomonosov State University.


I am member of several networks and research collaborations:
Oxford Martin Programme on Nanotechnology
JSPS funded Core-to-Core programme
International Brain Mechanics and Trauma Lab
I am in the steering committee of QBIOX
I am also a member of the Systems Biology DTC and the EPSRC ONBI CDT.

I collaborate with researchers all over the world -which if the best part of the job!- right now I am working with:

  • Prof Antoine Jerusalem, Oxford Engineering, on mechanoelectrical coupling in neurons, funded by EPSRC project "NEUROPULSE"
  • Dr Isabel Llorente (UCL) in micro and nanomanipulation of carbon nanoparticles in solution
  • Ian Moore, Oxford Plant Sciences. "Thinking inside the box: how do plants build organised walls?" Funded by the Leverhulme Trust from 2014-2018.
  • Chikara Dohno from SANKEN, Osaka University, DNA nanostructures on lipid bilayers.
  • Matsumoto Lab, SANKEN, Osaka University, Biosensing using graphene field effect transistors.


In the past I have collaborated with Prof. Arvind Raman (Purdue), Dr Sonia Trigueros, Dr Eneko Axpe, Dr. Jihan Zhou, Prof. Hiroshi Iwasaki (Osaka U), Prof. Hiroyuki Noji (Tokyo U), Prof. H. Tabata (Tokyo U), Prof. Sergi Civit (U Barcelona), Dr. Roger Proksch (Asylum Research), Dr Stephan Grage (Karlsruhe), Prof. Ando's AFM lab, ... and a lot of great researchers!


Listen to a Podcast for BBC Science Focus on "nanotechnology and the future of medicine" here interviewed by Amy Barrett

aeon 2020 Engines of life small.jpg
APRIL 2020. Read my essay "Engines of life" in Aeon Magazine.
You can listen to this essay on Curio narrated by Emma Powell

March 2020. PREPRINT OUT!Lab-on-a-graphene-FET detection of key molecular events underpinning influenza virus infection and effect of antiviral drugsT. Ono, K. Kamada, R. Hayashi, A. R. Piacenti, C. Gabbutt, N. Sriwilaijaroen, H. Hiramatsu, Y. Kanai, K. Inoue, S. Nakakita, T. Kawahara, Y. Ie, Y. Watanabe, Y. Suzuki, S. Contera, K. Matsumoto

March 2020. "I, nanorobot"NATURE PHYSICS publishes a whole page review of "Nano comes to life" written by the senior editor of Nature Nanotechnology, Christine-Maria Horejs.
My book "Nano comes to Life" published by Princeton University was out on Nov 5, 2019.(with lovely endorsing words by Eric Drexler, the legendary nanotech pioneer ). "Nano comes to life" can be ordered, e. g. here. Recored books has released the audiobook, and CITIC Press will publish the Chinese translation in 2020. A summary can be read at Princeton Ideas.
"Nano comes to life " has featured in BBC Radio 4 Start of the week, where where Kirsty Wark discussed scientific secrets, lies and hype with Hannah Fry, Sonia Contera, Tim Harford and Izabella Kaminska.
"Nano comes to life" was reviewed by Nature, recommended (twice) by the New Scientist. It has featured twice in The Times. I have been invited to discuss it in the Harvard Businees Review podcast "Exponential View", and in Intelligence Squared podcast with the editor of the Times Tom Whipple. It was also the subject of a 3 pages feature in the BBC Science Focus Magazine . Wendy M Grossman reviewed it for Zdnet

I have delievered several public lectures on "Nano comes to life" (many of the can be found in youtube): at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, at the the Oxford Martin School, and I was invited to present at the AAAS meeting in Seattle in 2020.

I will be presenting it at the Oxford literary festival (29 March 20), The Edinbugh Science Festival, The Edinburgh Book festival, the Also Festival, and the Hay Festival.
I will deliver a Public Lecture on "Nano comes to life" at the Univeristy of Oxford, Physics Department on 7 May 20.
Watch my talk on "Nano comes to life" at the Oxford Martin School , here:
"Nano comes to life" at the ROYAL INSTITUTION (Jan 2020)

13 feb 2020: Paper accepted, "Biophysical characterization of DNA origami nanostructures reveals inaccessibility to intercalation binding sites" by Miller, Helen; Contera, Sonia; Wollman, Adam; Hirst, Adam; Dunn, Katherine; Schroeter, Sandra; O'Connell, Deborah; Leake, Mark, has been accepted for publication in Nanotechnology.

17 Nov 2019: Paper accepted,"Polymeric microellipsoids with programmed magnetic anisotropy for controlled rotation using low (≈10 mT) magnetic fields".Authored  by Andrea Bonilla-Brunner, Isabel Llorente García, Bumjin Jang, Midori Amano Patiño, Viraj Alimchandani, Bradley J. Nelson, Salvador Pané and Sonia Contera*. Our paper demonstrates an easy way of fabricating magnetic microellipsoids which can produced controlled and smooth rotations in liquid at the micro and nanoscale, they will have applications in mixing liquids, producing micro turbulent flows, or as probes in biomedical and biophysical aassays. It will be published by Applied Materials Today.

01 Oct 2019 : Paper accepted,“AFM
nanoindentation reveals decrease of elastic modulus of lipid bilayers near freezing point of water”
by C. Gabbutt, K Ho, J. Seifert and S Contera*. We show that changes at the lipid bilayer interface below 5 C result in a reduced elastic modulus which might be relevant to cell cryopreservation. It will be published in Scientific Reports.

23-24 Sept 2019, Invited speaker at Focused Ultrasound Neuromodulation Symposium, at Oxford. My talk title is: "Tools from biological physics to investigate the mechanisms underlying ultrasound neuromodulation across the scales"
22-24 Sept 2019, Invited speaker at the European Mechanics Society's: Colloquium 604 Fluid and solid mechanics for tissue engineering. My talk is: "Quantifying viscoelasticity of extracellular matrices/tissue engineering scaffolds across temporal and spatial scales with atomic force microscopy".

23 July 19: Paper accepted. "Electrophysiological-mechanical coupling in the neuronal membrane and its role in ultrasound neuromodulation and general anaesthesia" Antoine Jerusalem, Zeinab Al-Rekabi, Haoyu Chen, Ari Ercole, Majid Malboubi, Miren Tamayo-Elizalde, Lennart Verhagen, Sonia Contera. Acta Biomaterialia.
General anaesthetics revolutionised medical practice; now an apparently unrelated tool, “ultrasound neuromodulation”—aimed at controlling neuronal activity by means of ultrasound—is poised to achieve a similar level of impact. While both technologies are known to alter the electrophysiology of neurons, the way they achieve it is still largely unknown. In this review, we argue that in order to explain their mechanisms/effects, the neuronal membrane must be considered as a coupled mechano-electrophysiological system that consists of multiple physical processes occurring concurrently and collaboratively, as opposed to sequentially and independently. In this framework the behaviour of the cell membrane is not the result of stereotypical mechanisms in isolation but instead emerges from the integrative behaviour of a complexly coupled multiphysics system.

28-29/03/2019 Invited Speaker at the "Electrical Cell Biology" symposium at the University of Warwick, really looking forward to it.
8-9/02/2019, Speaking on "Physics and the Future of Biology" at the DAU PARIS event.

24/01/2019 Paper accepted for publication "A simple mathematical model of allometric exponential growth describes the early 3D growth dynamics of secondary xylem in Arabidopsis roots" By Anna Thamm, Sabina Sanegre-Sans, Jennifer Paisley, Susana Meader, Ana Milhinhos, Sonia Contera* and Javier Agusti1*. Royal Society Open Science.
22/01/2019 Paper accepted "Atomic Force Microscopy-indentation demonstrates that Alginate Beads are mechanically stable under Cell Culture Conditions" by Chih-Yao Chui1, Andrea Bonilla-Brunner, Jacob Seifert, Sonia Contera* and Hua Ye* in the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. This paper results from a collaboration with Cathy Ye's group(Oxford Biomedical Engineering) on the mechanical properties of materials for tissue engineering.

31/Jan/2019 Always happy and honoured to receive the invitation from the Oxford Physics Society to speak in their seminar lectures. I will talk about: Non-equilibrium thermodynamics to understand growth and shape in biology including cancer” and will try to make it accessible to physicists but also to biologists or other 8pm in the Martin Wood lecture theatre, in the Clarendon Laboratory (Physics Department) on Parks Road.

04-08/Aug/2019 I will be invited keynote speaker in the IEEE-3m nano conference in Zhenjiang China.

eFinnacial careers have published a nice article on our talks at the National Gallery on science and innovation. Here is the article.

03/12/2018 panel member of CaixaBank "Diversity talks", hosted by Regina Llopis (CEO of AIA)at the National Gallery in London. We will talk about entrepreneurship from the lab all the way to making an impact in the world, and how to support women along their careers in STEM.

02/10/2018. The website of our new research collaboration on Plant mechanics is up Oxford Plant Biomechanics

27/09/2018 Invited Speaker at the RMS event "Microscopy: Advances, Innovation, Impact 2018" at the Royal Society in London. I will speak on "Mapping the mechanical properties underlying the timing of biological growth across the scales with AFM"

07/08/2018 I have been appointed as member of the Advisory Council to the Andalusian government (Junta de Andalucia) on Research, Development and Innovation.

Award! The Gibbs Prize for the best use of experimental apparatus in a MPhys Project has been awarded to Rebecca Vaughan (at Contera lab) for her work on "Damage to cell membranes during cryopreservation using atomic force microscopy" (07/08/2018)

Award!: Andrea Bonilla Bunner at Contera lab has been awarded the Oxford University Vice-chancellor's fund for her work on magnetic materials for biomedical applications (21/05/2018).

New publications:

2018 talks:

  • 16/17 January 2018. Invited speaker at Osaka University,SANKEN SYMPOSIUM “Global Networking on Molecular Technology Research” I will talk on "Biological Viscoelasticity for Medical Applications"
  • 1 February 2018 speaker at the Future Forum of the EY Future partner development programme of the Said Business School (Oxford)
  • 12 February 2018, Speaker on "Lab life" at the Oxford Networked Strategy Lab (Said Business School)
  • 20 February 2018. THE WONDER DIALOGUES: Sonia Contera talks to author Caspar Henderson about vibration in nature. EVENT info here. 6pm, Monday 20 February 2018, Oxford Martin School
  • 15-16 March. Invited speaker at START Summit, University of St. Gallen , Switzerland. I will talk about Nanotechnology, biology and the future of Medicine
  • 18-20 April 2018, invited spaker at the Multrifrequency AFM conference in Madrid, Spain
  • 15-18 March 2018: Invited speaker at CUWiP 2018 Oxford Department of Physics and Keble College Oxford
  • 27 April 2018 Speaker at the Oxford Physics Alumni annual event at the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London on Physics at the interface of nanotechnology and biology
  • 15 May 2018: panel member of the Oxford University Physics Society'event 'How to be a Physicist'
  • 20-22 June 2018: Invited speaker at the 6th International Iberian Biophysics Congress and X Iberoamerican Congress of Biophysics. Castellon. Spain.
  • 26 June 2018: speaking on "The physics of life" at the Higgs Hunter Conference, Oxford Physics Dept.
  • 9 Jul 2018: Speaker at JST-CREST “2D Materials” UK-Japan Workshop at Cambridge, at the Cavendish Lab on "understanding the molecular mechanisms of biosensing viruses with FETs"
  • 27 Sept 2018 Invited Speaker at the RMS event "Microscopy: Advances, Innovation, Impact 2018" at the Royal Society in London. I will speak on "Mapping the mechanical properties underlying the timing of biological growth accross the scales with AFM"

July 2017: I am honoured to have been elected as Chair of the SPM Section of the Royal Microscopical Society

small_prize.png20 July 2017: More Prizes at Contera lab, Calum Gabbutt wins the NTT Prize for the best MPhys project 2016/17 of Oxford Physics department for his work on the physics of cryopreservation of lipid membranes.
21 June 2017 Andrea Bonilla Brunner in our lab has been awarded the Nicholas Kurti Prize for distinguished work by a third year student in Condensed Matter Physics for her works on magnetic materials for biomedical applications

27 Jan 2017. How to build handles to attach to cells using DNA nanostructures: Paper accepted in Nanoscale.Amphiphilic DNA tiles for controlled insertion and 2D assembly on fluid lipid membranes: Effect on mechanical properties. Authors are Chikara Dohno, Shingo Makishi, Kazuhiko Nakatani and Sonia Contera. This is a result of a collaboration with SANKEN institute in Osaka University funded by JSPS through the Core to Core programme on Biosensing for a Safer Society.

2016: I am delighted to become a member of the steering committee of The Quantitative Biology Network at Oxford QBIOX and also member of the management committee of the EU COST action "Biomaterials and advanced physical techniques for regenerative medicine of the heart and the brain"

Head of the Biophysics teaching lab at Oxford Physics from 2014

Coordinator (2013) of the Doctoral Training Center 2 weeks Module on Biological Physics 2013
DTC Modules information here

Teaching AFM and AFM practicals for the DTC Advanced Biophysics Module

Major Option C7: Biological Physics

Physics Today lecture
(1st Year) 2012
-Physics and the future of biology and medicine

Practical Course: Biophysics BP03*****
-Atomic Force Microscopy
(5 star student rating)
-3rd Year Mini Project: biopolymer physics with atomic force microscopy


My research integrates biological physics, nanoscience and scanning probe microsocopy for biomedical applications.

My motivation is to use physics and nanotechnology to understand biological problems and the other way around: to learn from biology to create new bioinspired materials and applications

Physics in biology and how it happens at the biological scales from nm to micron to macroscopic.

  • Interests include: cell mechanical properties, single molecule nanomechanics, membrane protein biophysics, DNA nanomechanics, molecular motors, membrane biophysics.
    Live cell mechanical comminication, shapes, sizes and growth, cells in tissues
    Cell Rheology in 2D/3D culture and in tissues.
  • Molecular forces in biology, physicochemical interactions at bionano-interfaces, nanostructure/biomolecule/cells interactions
  • Interfaces: nanostructured surfaces/liquid-solid interfaces, nano-bio interfaces.


  • Biomimetic functional materials
  • (Nano)physics for medicine, (drug-delivery, tissue engineering, biosensing).
    {*] Cryopreservation of cells and tissues


  • High-resolution/high-speed/ atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning probe microscopy in biology, mechanical properties mapping.
  • Force spectroscopy

Some biological problems I am interested in: cell mechanics,cytoskeleton, extracellular matrix, membranes and membrane proteins, cell nucleus rheology

Events, outreach, talks, webcasts, press coverage/contributions....

Blog of events:
Coming up talks:

July 2017: I am honoured to have been elected as Chair of the SPM Section of the Royal Microscopical Society

small_prize.png20 July 2017: More Prizes at Contera lab, Calum Gabbutt wins the NTT Prize for the best MPhys project 2016/17 of Oxford Physics department for his work on the physics of cryopreservation of lipid membranes.
21 June 2017 Andrea Bonilla Brunner in our lab has been awarded the Nicholas Kurti Prize for distinguished work by a third year student in Condensed Matter Physics for her works on magnetic materials for biomedical applications

[*]1 July 2017, Magdalene College School Terrace, 12pm - 3pm
meet me and Ellen McAleavey (art student at Oxford Brookes University) talking at the Soapbox Science and Art 2017 event on “Nanotechnology and the Future of Biology: the converging technologies that will shape the future of Medicine.”

I am organising the "Structures, Interfaces and Mechanics in Life and Health" session at the Microscience Microscopy Congress in Manchester 3-6 July 2017. I am co-chairing with Kislon Voitchovsky from Durham University. Jacob Seifert and Andrea Bonilla from our lab are also presenting their work. I am also an invited speaker in the "High Resolution SPM" session.

[*]16 MAY, 7-9 PM, SPEAKING at PINT OF SCIENCE OXFORD on Physics, nanotechnology and the future of biology and medicine. Slug and Lettuce, Oxford 1 Oxford Castle, New Rd,
Oxford OX1 1AY. Book tickets here.SOLD OUT!

[*] Speaking at GRADnet Conference: Functional scanning probe microscopy techniques 31 March 2017. Building 58, Murray Lecture Theatre Complex, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton SO17 1BJ.

[*]9 March 2017. Speaking at the Oxford University Physics Society on the convergence of nanotechnology, biology and medicine.

[*]14 Dec 2016. Speaking at the SANKEN Core to Core Worskhop in Osaka.

[*]16 Jan 2017. Speaking at Institut de Ciencia de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC)

[*]30 September - 2 October , 2016. I am honored and humbled to be one of the keynote speakers in a conference with so many incredible participants, including 3 Nobel Prizes. The 2016 Altius Conference which will be exploring the topic: “The Brain of the Future. Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Governance and Global Politics in the Age of Thinking Machines”

[*]30 Sept 2016: Speaker at the AMIT Conference in Seville

28 Sept 2016: Speaking at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh hosted by Iwan Schapp

August 2016, Speaker at the wonderfully interesting POEM Workshop at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen on Fluctuations and Electromechanics of Artificial Membranes, Cells and Nerves,

July 2016, Interviewed by Spanish Newspaper EL MUNDO

Jacob Seifert will be giving talks at the AFM Forum in Geneva in June and also the SPM Meeting in Warwick in July.

6-7 July 2016 Royal Society of Microscopy's SPM meeting at Warwick University.I will chair the AFM in Biology session, which will be about forces and mechanics in Biology. Join us!

Our new atomic force microscope has been installed!
And (right) the first atomic resolution image of mica in water.

  • Paper accepted: Magneto-electrical orientation of lipid-coated graphitic micro-particles in solution
    in RSC Advances. By J. Nguyen, S. Contera, and I. Llorente García.
  • 30.03.2016 Our new Cypher AFM has been delivered from Santa Barbara!
  • My perspective article entitled "Designer cantilevers for even more accurate quantitative measurements of biological systems with multifrequency AFM" has been published in Nanotechnology. It is a Perspective on this work by Luna's lab.
  • EPSRC just made it official: NeuroPulse has been selected as one of the winners of the Healthcare technology challenges.

    Antoine Jerusalem (PI), myself (co-I) and collaborators (see below) will be working on advanced uses of ultrasound to control neuronal function. A postdoctoral position will soon be open in my lab.
    Electrophysiological-mechanical coupled pulses in neural membranes: a new paradigm for clinical therapy of SCI and TBI (NeuroPulse)
    NeuroPulseaims at developing and utilising state-of-the-art modelling approaches for the study of electrophysiological and mechanical coupling in a healthy and mechanically damaged axon, nerve and, eventually, spinal cord and brain white-matter tract. The resulting in-silico platform developed by Professor Antoine Jerusalem in Oxford Engineering will be calibrated and validated by means of a comprehensive experimental programme in collaboration with the Department of Physics at Oxford, via co-investigator Professor Sonia Contera. Two teams of clinical project partners in Oxford and Cambridge will participate in the analysis of the results for direct applications in a clinical setting. The clinical support for the research at Oxford will be provided by Dr Damian Jenkins and Mr Tim Lawrence of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

  • I have become a member of the expert committee for the Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Programme 2016.


Our recent paper "Sub-nanoscale free volume and local elastic modulus of chitosan/carbon nanotube biomimetic nanocomposite scaffold-materials" selected to the 2015 Journal of Materials Chemistry B Hot Papers

This paper describes new methods that enable to measure and to desing two key parameters of future materials for drug-delivery and tissue engineering: nanoscale mechanical properties and crucially mass transport (free volume) using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and positron annihilation spectroscopy (PALS).
The authors of this work are: Eneko Axpe, Loic Bugnicourt, David Merida, M. Goiriena-Goikoetxea, Iraultza Unzueta, R. Sanchez-Eugenia, Jose Angel Garcia, Fernando Plazaola and Sonia Contera.

Paper accepted in Nanoscale Aug 2015.
"Effect of intra-membrane C60 fullerenes on modulus of elasticity and mechanical resistance of gel and fluid lipid bilayers" By Jihan Zhou, Dehai Liang and Sonia Contera
C60 fullerenes stiffen lipid bilayers but they decrease their mechanical resistance, our results have implications for drug delivery and nanotoxicity of C60 particles.

2015年7月 四川大学《纳米技术与生物学和医学的未来》

Read my piece for the WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM Agenda : Can nanotechnology reduce inequality?.

This is a little article I have written for the popular science magazine iDescubre (in Spanish)
La convergencia de la Fisica, la Nanotecnologia y la Biologia

And here an interview for SCU news, in Chinese, 世界因你们而不同——专访牛津大学Sonia Antoranz教授

The website of my lab has migrated to

Hosting Prof Javier Garcia Martinez's talk at the Oxford Martin School!


Our new book Anticipating 2025: A guide to the radical changes that may lie ahead, whether or not we're ready, is out!

- 12.5.2016I speak at the SWE Women in Engineering conference in Madrid on Nanotech and Bio , hashtag #swe2016;

- 5.5.2016 , 4:00 I am delivering the Oxford Materials Colloquium . Quantitative design of materials for health: embrace biophysics!

- 15.03.16, I take part in EPSRC's London regional workshop as a member of EPSRC Physical Sciences SAT .

- [b] 16.03.16, Speaker at UCL's Materials for Health workshop, Radisson Blue Hotel, Tottenham Court Road, London.

-[b] 8 March 16. I delivered the Condensed Matter physics seminars on "Mechancics and Biology" at the University of Warwick Physics Department hosted by Neil Wilson.

-5 February 2016 I was the speaker of one of the School of Physics colloquia at Trinity College Dublin.

16 Jan 2016, Madrid. I had a wonderful time in a meeting of the WEF communities in Spain, especially with the groups of Global Shapers of Madrid and Barcelona. Lots of energy for shaping the future!

-6 Jan 2016, Oxford. I am a speaker at the "From Molecules to Systems 2016 Winter School" which will take place in St. Catherine's College , Oxford.

-4 December 2015,Seville. Speaking on Nanotechnology in Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Seville.

-25-27 October 2015,Abu Dhabi. I took part in Abu Dhabi's World Economic Forum Global agenda council as a member of the WEF GAC on Nanotecnology.

- 18 Nov 2015,Cambridge. Spoke at Cambridge, hosted by the Physics Society on the 18th of November on Nanotech, Physcics and the future of biology and medicine

- 6-10 July 2015, Chendu. I taught the course "Nanotechnology and the future of Biology and Medicine" at Sichuan University, China.

- 7 Jul 2015, Chengdu. I was an invited speaker at Sichuan Immersion Programme Symposium on the 7th of July

- The website of my lab has migrated to

- Prof Javier Garcia Martinez director of the Molecular Nanotechnology Lab at the University of Alicante and founder of Rive technology was awarded the prestigious Oxford Martin School Visiting Fellowship for a month and a half visit in May-June 2015, in my Lab which is part of the Oxford Martin Programme on Nanotechnology. We learned lots of chemistry and about entrepreneurship with him, and he gave us three wonderful talks. Here is the video to one at the Oxford Martin School on "Academic Entrepreneurship"

-Invited in Seville's "Jornadas del futuro cientifico" on Nanotechnology and Physics in Biology, Medicine and Tissue Engineering, on the 27th Feb. More info here.
This was a great event.

- Speaker at the SANKEN Core to Core Symposium, 12 December 2015, Osaka, Japan

- I have written Física y nanotecnología en ingeniería de tejidos, o cómo comunicarse con las células usando fuerzas (In Spanish) for Prometeo-us: Blog de Ingeniería Tisular y Medicina Regenerativa.

- Participant at the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Nanotechnology Meeting. Dubai 09-11 November 2014.

- Public lecture at the Cambridge University Physics Society, Wed 26 Nov 2014.

- Invited speaker at Barcelona BioMed Conference on “Transporters and other membrane molecular machines (structures and single molecule analysis)” Barcelona on 17-19 November, 2014.
-Seminar at the Faculty of Science & Technology, University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Friday 26 Sept 2014.

-Some fotos of the Core to Core Symposium on biosensing that we hosted on the 24-25 July

-Invited speaker, Gordon Research Conference on Membrane Transport Proteins, Keynote Session: New Methods in Membrane Transport Research. July 13-18, 2014 Mount Snow Resort, West Dover, VT USA

- Invited Speaker at Bristol Nanoscience Symposium 2014. Dates: Sunday 14th, Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th September 2014

- Public lecture at the Cambridge University Physics Society, Michaelmas 2014 date and venue TBA

- Invited speaker at Barcelona BioMed Conference on “Transporters and other membrane molecular machines (structures and single molecule analysis)” to be held in Barcelona on 17-19 November, 2014.

-24-25 July at Oxford : Next Generation Sensor Devices for a Healthier, Safer Society - International Networking workshop

-Our new book Anticipating 2025: A guide to the radical changes that may lie ahead, whether or not we're ready, is out!

I took part in the Forces in Biology Meeting: 19th/20th March 2014,

I was invited speaker at Anticipatintg 2025, Sat 22 and Sun 23 March 2014, Birkbeck College, London. A fantastic event with a great panel of speakers trying to make a serious analysis of the potentially radical scenarios that may unfold between now and 2025.

Webcasts of the event "How can we capture the possibilities but avoid the pitfalls of nanotechnology?" - Next Big Thing Here
My bit is here:

26 March 2013 18:30 - 19:45 Nesta, 1 Plough Place, London, EC4A 1DE
Speaker at the Next Big Thing: This London-based event is a collaboration between the Oxford Martin School, Policy Exchange and Nesta: "How can we capture the possibilities but avoid the pitfalls of nanotechnology?" - Next Big Thing More information here

  • Dr Sonia Contera, Co-Director, Oxford Martin Programme on Nanotechnology
  • Dr Eric Drexler, Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology
  • Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, University of Sheffield
  • John Knowles, Chairman, Advisory Board, UK Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network

Chair: Jessica Bland, Technology Futures, Nesta
Join in on Twitter - #nextbigthing
For more information and booking a seat, please visit

Interviewed on Nanotechnology for Medicine by Strategic North for the publication STRATEGIC TALES
The interview is here

Feb 2013: GRANT awarded by JSPS for “International Research Collaboration Network for Developing Highly Functional Sensing Devices for Health, Safety and Security", within the frame work of the JSPS Core to Core Program, for a collaboration of Osaka Univeristy's SANKEN institute for collaboration wirh labs from Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, USA, France and my lab in Oxford. 19,850,000 yen/year x 5 years.

Feb 2013: I am interviewed for the Spanish edition of Glamour Magazine!
glamour sp

15 Feb 2013 Manga author Riko Miyagi visits our lab to research for a new Manga series on a Woman Scientist...

17 Jan 2013 PUBLIC LECTURE 'Nanotechnology and the future of medicine'British Science Association Oxford Branch SciBar PODCAST AVAILABLE

26 DEC 2012, 1 page feature in the print edition of the most popular Spanish Newspaper El Pais, featuturing our work on the future of medicine and an interview. The online edition is here link

Dec 2012. JAPAN TRIP funded by the EPSRC programme Bridging the Gaps 2012. I am visiting Noji's lab at Tokyo University and giving two lectures to master students at the Dept of Chemistry of Tokyo University on AFM and protein nanomechanics. I am also participating in a Symposium at SANKEN , Osaka University as invited speaker and then visiting Tabata lab at Tokyo University for discussing collaboration in IR, THz spectroscopy and nanomaterials...

3 Dec 2012 PUBLIC LECTURE. Physics and the future of medicine.
6:00pm - 7:00pm Martin Wood Complex, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX13PU, General public (Age 14+)

Nanotechnology feature for the WIRED MAGAZINE special issue on the WIRED WORLD 2013.
You can read the piece here
The piece has also be featured in WIRED MAGAZINE ITALIAN EDITION

Wired 2011: How physicists are moving into biology


Emerging healthcare technologies - how are they changing us?

Feature on my work in Spanish National Newspaper EL Mundo on Tissue Engineering

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