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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Zeljka Krpetic

Lecturer in Physical Chemistry


After achieving my Ph.D. in Chemistry at The University of Milan (Italy) in 2008 followed by my post-doctoral research training in the cross-disciplinary field of applied nanotechnology in the UK and Ireland I joined the University of Salford as a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry in September 2016.

I have been working in several academic institutions across UK and Europe: Centre for BioNano Interactions (CBNI) at the University College Dublin (Ireland), The University of Liverpool (UK) and the Centre for Nanometrology at Strathclyde University (UK) where I took an active role in several European, UK and Irish funded research projects: FP6 “NACARDIO”, EU FP7 “BisNano”, EPSRC funded “Science and Innovation” (UK), EU FP7 ‘FutureNanoNeeds’, EU FP7 ‘NanoSolutions, Collaborative Centre for Applied Nanotechnology - CCAN ‘Nanokinetics’ project and FP7 ‘NanoMILE’.

As a result of my broader research engagement, I am a member of the editorial board (since 1014) and nominated an Associate Editor the Cancer Nanotechnology journal (Springer Publishing group) since 2017.

My research is focused on preparative nano chemistry and tailored functionalisation of nanoparticles for diverse range of biomedical applications including development multimodal sensing platforms, synthesis of nanoparticles for targeted delivery, enhanced antimicrobial properties and cancer radiotherapy dose enhancement and development of new approaches to nanoparticle characterisation in view of enhancing the quality assurance of the nanomaterials used in nanomedicine.

Amongst many achievements, I designed novel nanoparticle systems applied in multimodal nanoparticle-based sensing and manufactured the first example of a gold nanoparticle-based tool for ultra-sensitive double-stranded DNA detection. I also developed novel nanoparticles-cell uptake studies and studied the intracellular fate of nanoparticles on electron microscopy level.

In particular, my research was focused on the development of gold nanoparticles and new approaches for circumventing cell particle uptake by endocytosis-based mechanisms, that is of vital importance for the future use of nanoparticles in nanomedicine and drug delivery. Of equal importance, my studies introduced new methods for preparation of highly monodisperse gold particles and shaped particle libraries and developed new protocols for clean (endotoxin-free) approaches to nanoparticle syntheses for in vivo and in vitro applications.

Salford NanoLab, my research group at Salford University is developing novel nanoparticle formulations for X-ray dose enhancement anticancer therapy and new nanoparticle systems with advanced antimicrobial properties.


Level 4: Introduction to Physical Chemistry; BSc (Hons) Chemistry, BSc (Hons) Medicinal Chemistry

Level 5: Core Physical Chemistry (ex Physical and Analytical Chemistry), BSc (Hons) Chemistry, BSc (Hons) Medicinal Chemistry

Level 7: Research Project; MSc

Level 7: Novel Therapeutics; MSc Drug Design & Discovery

I am module leader of the Core Physical Chemistry (Level 5) and co-teaches on the Introduction to Physical Chemistry (Level 4) and Novel Therapeutics (Level 7) modules.

I am currently developing two modules for Level 7, MSc ‘Bionanotechnology and Nanomedicine’ and ‘Environmental Nanotechnology Nanotoxicology and Nanosafety’.

Research Interests

I am conducting an interdisciplinary research at the interface between chemistry, biology and applied nanoscience focusing on the design, preparation, characterisation and advanced applications of nanomaterials for biological and biomedical applications.

My research aims to better understand the interactions of nanoparticles with living systems and define and manufacture better quality next-generation nanomaterials for commercial and biomedical uses.

Moreover, my research includes the development of nanosensing tools for probing the biological responses, design, and preparation of smart multicomponent intracellular nano-vehicles and development of new approaches to nanoparticle analysis and characterisation strategies for critical assessment of anisotropic metal nanoparticles and their interactions with living cells.

I combine Electron Microscopy (TEM) and analytical centrifugation (Differential Centrifugal Sedimentation) approaches for the advanced high-resolution characterisation of the bio-nano interface.

Qualifications and Memberships

PhD in Chemistry, University of Milan, Italy (December 2008) Dissertation title: “Preparation, Characterisation and Biological Applications of Gold Nanoparticles”

MSc in Chemistry, University of Milan, Italy (July 2005) Dissertation title: “Gold Nanoparticles Stabilised by Mono and Polyfunctional, N and/or O Functionalised Organic Ligands. Applications in Biological Systems”

Member of the Italian Chemical Society (Società Chimica Italiana), 2007.

Member of E-MRS (European Materials Research Society), 2011.

Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC), since 2017.

Member of the American Chemical Society, since 2016.

Member of Biomedical Research Centre, University of Salford, since 2016.


Book Chapters

1. Željka Krpetic, Sergio Anguissola, David Garry, Philip M. Kelly, Kenneth A. Dawson. ‘Nanomaterials: Impact on cells and cell organelles’ In: Nanomaterial: Impact on Cell Biology and Medicine. David Capco and Yongsheng Chen Eds. Springer, 2014

Journal Papers: Refereed

1.     Talamini, L., Violatto, M.B., Cai, Q, Monopoli, M.P., Kantner, K., Krpetic, Z., Perez-Potti, A., Cookman, J. Garry, D., Silveira, C.P., Boselli, L., Pelaz, B., Serchi, T., Cambier, S., Gutleb, A.C., Feliu, N., Yan, Y., Salmona, M., Parak, W. J., Dawson, K.A., Bigini, P. 'Influence of Size and Shape on the Anatomical Distribution of Endotoxin-Free Gold Nanoparticles', ACS Nano, 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b00497

2.     Castagnola, V., Auaujo, J.M.D., Cookman, J., Polo, E., Cai, Q., Silveira, C.P., Krpetic, Z., Yan, Y., Boselli, L., Dawson, K.A. 'Towards a classification strategy for complex nanostructures', Nanoscale Horizons,.2017, 2, 187-198.

3.     Krpetic, Z., Potenza, M.A., Sanvito, T., Cai, Q., Monopoli, M., Araujo, J.M.D., Cella, C., Boselli, L., Castagnola, V., Milani, P., Dawson, K.A. 'Detecting the shape of anisotropic gold nanoparticles in dispersion with single particle extinction and scattering', Nanoscale, 2017, 9, 2778-2784.

4.    Philip M. Kelly, Christoffer Åberg, Ester Polo, Ann O’Connell, Jennifer Cookman, Jonathan Fallon, Željka Krpetic,* Kenneth A. Dawson*. Biological Identity and Recognition of Nanoparticles: Epitope Mapping of the Biomolecular Corona. Nature Nanotechnology, 2015, 10, 472-479 

5.    Matteo Masetti, Hai-nan Xie, Željka Krpetic, Maurizio Recanatini, Ramon A. Alvarez-Puebla, Luca Guerrini. Revealing DNA Interactions with Exogenous Agents by Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 469-476.

6.    Luca Guerrini, Željka Krpetic, Danny van Lierop, Ramon A. Alvarez-Puebla, Duncan Graham. Direct Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering Analysis of DNA Duplexes. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2014, 54, 1144-1148.

7.    Gabriel J. Gordillo, Željka Krpetic, Mathias Brust. Interactions of Gold Nanoparticles with a Phospholipid Monolayer Membrane on Mercury. ACS Nano, 20148, 6074–6080.

8.    Ana M. Cioran, Francesc Texidor, Željka Krpetic, Mathias Brust, Clara Vinas. Preparation and Characterisation of Au Nanoparticles Capped with Mercaptocarboranyl Clusters. Dalton Transactons, 2014, 43, 5054-5061.

9.    Željka Krpetic, Adam M. Davidson, Martin Volk, Raphaël Lévy, Mathias Brust, David L. Cooper. High-Resolution Sizing of Monolayer-Protected Gold Clusters by Differential Centrifugal Sedimentation ACS Nano20137, 8881–8890.

10.  Andrew J. Perrett, Rachel L. Dickinson, Željka Krpetic, Mathias Brust, Helen Lewis, Ian C. Eperon, Glenn A. Burley. Conjugation of PEG and gold nanoparticles to increase the accessibility and valency of tethered RNA splicing enhancers. Chemical Science 4, 2013, 257-265.

11.  Željka Krpetic, Ishwar Singh, Wu Su, Luca Guerrini, Karen Faulds, Glenn A. Burley, Duncan Graham. Directed Assembly of DNA-Functionalized Gold Nanoparticles Using Pyrrole-Imidazole Polyamides. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 143, 2012, 8356-8359. 

12.  Danny van Lierop, Željka Krpetic, Luca Guerrini, Iain A. Larmour, Jennifer A. Dougan, Karen Faulds, Duncan Graham. Positively charged silver nanoparticles and their effect on surface-enhanced Raman scattering of dye-labelled oligonucleotides. Chem Commun.  2012, 48, 8192-8194.

13.  Ana M. Cioran, Ana D. Musteti, Francesc Teixidor, Željka Krpetic, Ian A. Prior, Mathias Brust, Clara Vinas. Mercaptocarborane-capped Gold Nanoparticles: Electron Pools and Ion Traps with Switchable Hydrophilicity. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 134, 2012, 212-221.

14.  Željka Krpetic, Luca Guerrini, Iain Larmour, Karen Faulds, Duncan Graham. Importance of the Nanoparticle Size in Colorimetric and SERS-based Trace Detection of Ni(II) Ions by Functional Gold Nanoprobes. Small, 8, 2012, 707-714.

15.  Stephen J. McMahon, Wendy B. Hyland, Emilie Brun, Karl T. Butterworth, Jonathan A. Coulter, Thierry Douki, David G. Hirst, Suneil Jain, Anthony P. Kavanagh, Željka Krpetic, Marcus H. Mendenhall, Mark F. Muir, Kevin M. Prise, Herwig Requardt, Léon Sanche, Giuseppe Schettino, Fred J. Currell, Cécile Sicard-Roselli. Energy dependence of gold nanoparticle radio-sensitisation in plasmid DNA. J. Phys. Chem. 115, 2011, 20160-20167.

16.  Laura Rodriguez-Lorenzo, Željka Krpetic, Silvia Barbosa, Ramon A. Alvarez-Puebla, Luis M. Liz-Marzan, Ian A. Prior, Mathias Brust. Intracellular mapping with SERS-encoded gold nanostars. Integrative Biology, 3, 2011, 922–926.

17.  Željka Krpetic, Paola Nativo, Ian A. Prior, Mathias Brust. Acrylate Facilitated Cellular Uptake of Gold Nanoparticles. Small (Special Issue: C. A. Mirkin, 20 Years at Northwestern) 7, 2011, 1982–1986.

18.  Željka Krpetic, Samia Saleemi, Ian A. Prior, Violaine Sée, Rumana Qureshi, Mathias Brust. Negotiation of Intracellular Membrane Barriers by TAT-Modified Gold Nanoparticles. ACS Nano 5, 2011, 5195–5201. (Article evaluated by F1000. Faculty of 1000: 2011.

19.  Željka Krpetic, Paola Nativo, Violaine See, Ian A. Prior, Mathias Brust, Martin Volk. Inflicting Controlled Nonthermal Damage to Subcellular Structures by Laser-activated Gold Nanoparticles. Nano Letters 10, 2010, 4549–4554.

20.  Željka Krpetic, Francesca Porta, Enrico Caneva, Vladimiro Dal Santo, Giorgio Scarì. Phagocytosis of biocompatible gold nanoparticles. Langmuir 26, 2010, 14799–14805.

21.  Željka Krpetic, Giorgio Scarì, Enrico Caneva, Giovanna Speranza, Francesca Porta. Gold nanoparticles prepared using Cape Aloe active components. Langmuir 25, 2009, 7217−7221.

22.  Željka Krpetic, Paola Nativo, Francesca Porta, Mathias Brust. A multidentate peptide for stabilisation and facile bioconjugation of gold nanoparticles. Bioconjugate Chemistry 20, 2009, 619−624.

23.  Sandra Rondinini, Gabriele Aricci, Željka Krpetic, Cristina Locatelli, Alessandro Minguzzi, Francesca Porta, Alberto Vertova. Electroreductions of silver-based electrocatalysts: the use of Ag nanoparticles for CHCl3 to CH4 conversion. Fuel Cells 9, 2008, 253−263.

24.  Francesca Porta, Željka Krpetic, Laura Prati, Aureliano Gaiassi, Giorgio Scarì. Gold-Ligand interaction studies of water soluble aminoalcohol capped gold nanoparticles by NMR. Langmuir 24, 2008, 7061−7064.

25.  Željka Krpetic, Francesca Porta, Giovanna Speranza, Vladimiro Dal Santo, Pierangelo Francescato, Giorgio Scarì. Gold nanoparticles capped by peptides. Materials Science and Engineering B 140, 2007, 187−194.

26.  Željka Krpetic, Francesca Porta, Giorgio Scarì. Selective entrance of gold nanoparticles into cancer cells. Gold Bulletin 39, 2006, 66−68.

27. Laura Prati, Alberto Villa, Francesca Porta, Dangsheng Su, Di Wang, Željka Krpetic. Single-phase bimetallic system for the selective oxidation of glycerol to glycerate. Studies in Surface Science and Catalysis; Scientific Basis for the Preparation of Heterogeneous Catalysts 162, 2006, 553−560.