Prof. Nick Lockyer

Nick Lockyer

Professor of Physical Chemistry

nick.lockyer @

tel: +44 (0)161 275 1013

  • PhD on Laser Ionisation Mass Spectrometry of Biomolecules, UMIST, 1996
  • BSc (1st) in Chemistry, UMIST, 1991.
  • Special Research Fellowship for the ‘Development of a Chemical Microscope‘ funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Elected member of the International Committee of the SIMS Societry, 2020

My research interests focus on the development and application of surface analysis and chemical imaging particularly ToF-SIMS and laser-based mass spectrometry. There are three themes to this research: fundamentals, instrument development and applications research. The Life Sciences provide an exciting field in which to develop new applications, which in turn drive developments in methodology and technology. We are currently seeking to exploit these advances through a variety of collaborations with fellow academics, industrial partners and healthcare professionals.

Research topics: Analytical Chemistry; Instrumentation; Chemical imaging; Ion-solid interactions; Laser-matter interactions; Materials characterisation

Laser postionisation schematic

Figure 1. The impact of keV ions or laser photons on a solid surface results in the ejection of ions and neutrals that reflect the detailed surface chemistry of the impact region. Scanning the focused probe beam over the sample leads to chemical images.  The emitted ions can be analysed and detected directly by mass spectrometry e.g. ToF-SIMS.  A complementary approach is to ‘post-ionise’ the neutrals, for example with an intense laser pulse.
Classification of cancer cell lines Figure 2. Classification of cancer cell lines using ToF-SIMS and multivariate analysis. Red is training data, blue is blind-test data. Confidence limits of 95% (outer ellipse) and 99% (inner ellipse) are shown. 1 = PC-3 ( human prostatic adenocarcinoma metastatic to bone); 2 =  LNCaP (human prostatic adenocarcinoma metastatic to lymph node);  3 = PNT2 (adult prostatic epithelial cells). Reproduced from M.J. Baker, E. Gazi, M.D. Brown, N.W. Clarke, J.C. Vickerman  and N.P. Lockyer, Applied Surface Science 255 (2008) 1084-1087.

Chemical imaging of a frog embryo

Current Research Projects

  • Development of ToF-SIMS instrumentation and methodology for 2D and 3D chemical imaging
    Collaborators: Ionoptika Ltd (Southampton), Ian Gilmore (National Physical Laboratory), Arnaud Delcorte (Université catholique de Louvain)
  • Laser post-ionisation of sputtered neutrals
    Collaborators: Zoltan Takats (Rosalind Franklin Institute & Imperial College), Josephine Bunch (National Physical Laboratory & Imperial College)
  • Ambient mass spectrometry in biotechnology and biomedicine 
    Collaborators: P. Barran, E. Takano (UoM, Department of Chemistry), Waters Corp.
  • The application of ToF-SIMS in cancer biology, diagnosis and therapy
    Collaborators: K. Williams (UoM School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences); A. McMahon (UoM School of Cancer Studies and Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre); P. Gardner  (UoM, School of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science), N. Clarke & M. Brown (UoM School of Cancer and Enabling Sciences & CRUK Paterson Institute for Cancer Research)

Recent Funding Sources

EPSRC, BBSRC, CRUK, Wellome Trust

Recent Publications [All Publications]

112 Mass Spectrometry Imaging for Spatial Chemical Profiling of Vegetative Parts of Plants
Akhila Ajith, Phillip J. Milnes, Giles N. Johnson and Nicholas P. Lockyer
Plants 11 (2022) 1234
111 Sensitivity enhancement using chemically reactive gas cluster ion beams in secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS)
Matija Lagator, Irma Berrueta Razo, Thomas Royle, and Nicholas P. Lockyer
Surf. Interface Anal. 54 (2022) 349-355
110 Metabolism in action: stable isotope probing using vibrational spectroscopy and SIMS reveals kinetic and metabolic flux of key substrates
Malama Chisanga, Howbeer Muhamadali, Danielle McDougall, Yun Xu, Nicholas Lockyer and Royston Goodacre
Analyst 146 (2021) 1734-1746
109 Microdistribution and quantification of the boron neutron capture therapy drug BPA in primary cell cultures of human glioblastoma tumour by NanoSIMS
Samar Aldossari, Greg McMahon, Nicholas P. Lockyer and Katie L. Moore
Analyst 144 (2019) 6214–6224
108 The influence of polyatomic primary ion chemistry on matrix effects in secondary ion mass spectrometry analysis
Afnan M. Alnajeebi, John C. Vickerman and Nicholas P. Lockyer
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 32 (2018) 1962–1970
107 Probing the action of a novel anti-leukaemic drug therapy at the single cell level using modern vibrational spectroscopy techniques
Joanna L. Denbigh, David Perez-Guaita, Robbin R. Vernooij, Mark J. Tobin, Keith R. Bambery, Yun Xu, Andrew D. Southam, Farhat L. Khanim, Mark T. Drayson, Nicholas P. Lockyer, Royston Goodacre & Bayden R. Wood
Scientific Reports 7 (2017) 2649
106 Quartz Crystal Microbalance Assay of Clinical Calcinosis Samples and Their Synthetic Models Differentiates the Efficacy of Chelation-Based Treatments
Fan Fei, Andrzej Gallas, Yun-Chuan Chang, Yikun Rao, Alan Christy Hunter, Richard E. P. Winpenny, Ariane L. Herrick, Nicholas P. Lockyer and Christopher F. Blanford
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 9 (2017) 27544–27552
105 Fossilization of melanosomes via sulfurization
Maria E. McNamara, Bart E. van Dongen, Nick P. Lockyer, Ian D. Bull and Patrick J. Orr
Palaeontology 59 (2016) 337–350
104 Matrix effects in biological SIMS using cluster ion beams of different chemical composition
Afnan M. Alnajeebi, John C. Vickerman and Nicholas P. Lockyer
Biointerphases 11 (2016) 02A317
103 Peptide Fragmentation and Surface Structural Analysis by Means of ToF-SIMS Using Large Cluster Ion Sources
Yuta Yokoyama, Satoka Aoyagi, Makiko Fujii, Jiro Matsuo, John S. Fletcher, Nicholas P. Lockyer, John C. Vickerman, Melissa K. Passarelli, Rasmus Havelund and Martin P. Seah
Analytical Chemistry 88 (2016) 3592–3597


  • N.P. Lockyer,  Laser Post-ionisation for Elemental and Molecular Surface Analysis in ToF-SIMS – Surface Analysis by Mass Spectrometry, Second Edition, Eds. J.C. Vickerman and D. Briggs, SurfaceSpectra (Manchester) and IM Publications (Chichester)
  • N.P. Lockyer “Static Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry for Biological and Biomedical ResearchMethods Mol. Biol. 369 (2007) 543-567

Selected Presentations

  • INVITED, “Improved bioanalysis using GCIB SIMS and laser post-ionisation”, 14th International Symposium on Atomic Level Characterizations for New Materials and Devices (ALC’22) Okinawa, Japan. Oct 2022.
  • KEYNOTE Multimodal Mass Spectrometry and Optical Imaging of a Neuroinflammation Model 42nd British Mass Spectrometry Society Conference, Manchester, September 2022.
  • INVITED Advances in ToF-SIMS using massive gas cluster ion beamsUK Surface Analysis Forum Manchester July 2022.

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