Materials biological physics

The assembly of new types of materials with new properties that mimic biological systems.

Professor Philip Turner's research focus lies in the physics of self-organization of biological systems, with a particular focus on plants and application of this knowledge in the assembly of new types of materials with new properties that mimic biological systems.

The work is being carried out in a key collaboration with Laurent Nottale, an astrophysicist based at the National Observatory in Paris who has been a visiting professor at Edinburgh Napier University since March 2013. Explaining the fundamental mechanisms by which molecules assemble into the diverse range of structures that describe living systems has been an open question for decades. The complexity and dynamic interactions associated with these systems (Gene’s, enzymes, hormones and environmental interactions at a range of scales) represents a huge challenge.

Our research on the physical principles underpinning self-organization in plants takes a significant step in addressing this challenge, identifying macroscopic quantum forces acting within the context of newly identified macroscopic quantum mechanics processes, which dictate the many structures we observe in plants at all scales.

See the images of flower, leaf and pod-like structures respectively grown from inorganic materials.  
This combination of theoretical and experimental work represents a major leap in our understanding of biological systems and the more
general assembly of matter at all scales.

New avenues of investigation

  • The emergence of living structures from prebiotic media. 
  • The development of new materials.
  • New high temperature superconducting materials.
  • Improve our understanding of processes involved in the origins of life.
  • Evolutionary biology and plant breeding.
  • Support the identification of genetic plant variants most adaptable to changes in the environment.
Turner. P and Nottale. L. The origins of macroscopic quantum coherence in high temperature super conductivity. Physica C. 515 15-30 (2015).