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Prof Glen McHale

Pro Vice-Chancellor

Department: Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

EE Glenmchale Staffprofile 255To be part of a Faculty that helps students and staff to grow and fulfil their aspirations, to provide inspiration of what can be achieved in life, and to gain skills and knowledge relevant to the world around us is an absolute privilege.

Before I went to University I wasn't sure whether I wanted to be an engineer, a scientist or a mathematician, but eventually I became a bit of all of these.

At University I started by studying Physics and Electronics - a legacy of a hobby building radios - but my interest was grabbed by the strange ideas of quantum theory and relativity. I was able to transfer to Mathematical Physics in which I gained a first class degree from the University of Nottingham.

A few years later I completed a PhD in Applied Mathematics and started work as a Theoretical Physicist. I had always had a blind spot for languages and so I applied to The Royal Society for a European Fellowship to go to the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris so that I could immerse myself in the language and culture - when not working. In Paris, I was drawn into Computing - a subject then in its infancy - and so with a mixture of electronics, physics, maths and computing, I came back to the UK to Nottingham Trent as Lecturer in Applied Physics and Instrumentation.

As a lecturer I spent many happy years sitting alongside students in labs helping them to get experiments to work, or in chats between lectures discussing why one way of thinking about an idea might work, but another might not. Increasingly, my own research interests developed and I found myself working alongside biotechnologists, materials scientists, electrical engineers, chemical engineers, fluid dynamicists and many others.

I found that my own skills could add to their perspectives to help find solutions to their real problems - something all engineers do. Along the way I developed a multidisciplinary applied science and engineering group that became recognized as world-leading in understanding and manipulating how liquids interact with solids. I also became a Professor, Head of Subject, and Head of Research (Science & Technology) at Nottingham Trent before joining Northumbria in 2012 as Dean and then Executive Dean.

Public understanding website Nature's Raincoats

Tel: +44 (0)191 227 3660


  • Applied Mathematics PhD September 01 1986
  • Mathematical Physics BSc (Hons) July 01 1983
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts FRSA 2017
  • Chartered Physicist (CPhys) Institute of Physics (IOP) 2015
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2007
  • Fellow Institute of Physics (IOP) 2002
  • Senior Member Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 2002

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Areas of research include the smart and advanced materials, static and dynamic wetting of surfaces (theory and experiment) and acoustic waves (fundamentals and sensor applications):

Wetting and Dewetting: Video-microscopy is used to study the interaction and evolution of liquids on surfaces. These surfaces have different geometries (planar, fiber, etc) and can be smooth or patterned;

Superhydrophobic, Superwetting and Slippery Surfaces: Lithography, electrodeposition and etching to sculpture surfaces at the nano- and micro-level is used to obtain extreme water repellency, imbibition beyond that which chemistry alone can deliver or super-slippery lubricant impregnated surfaces (SLIPS);

Electrowetting, Dielectrowetting and Liquid Optics: Liquid surfaces are shaped and droplets are controlled using electrostatic forces to create programmable diffraction gratings and lenses;

Acoustic and Surface Acoustic Wave Sensors: High frequency vibrations of quartz crystal microbalances (QCMs) and surface acoustic wave devices (SAWs) are used to probe liquid properties, and the solid-liquid and solid-vapour interfaces with selectivity achieved via surface coatings. 

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • A viscous switch for liquid-liquid dewetting, Edwards, A., Ledesma Aguilar, R., Newton, M., Brown, C., McHale, G. 23 Jan 2020, In: Communications Physics
  • Bidirectional Motion of Droplets on Gradient Liquid Infused Surfaces, Sadullah, M., Launay, G., Parle, J., Ledesma-Aguilar, R., Gizaw, Y., McHale, G., Wells, G., Kusumaatmaja, H. 22 Apr 2020
  • Electrostatic Control of Dewetting Dynamics, Edwards, A., Ledesma Aguilar, R., Newton, M., Brown, C., McHale, G. 6 Jun 2020, In: Applied Physics Letters
  • Hierarchical nanotexturing enables acoustofluidics on slippery yet sticky, flexible surfaces, Tao, R., McHale, G., Reboud, J., Cooper, J., Torun, H., Luo, J., Jikui, L., Yang, X., Zhou, J., Canyelles-Pericas, P., Wu, Q., Fu, R. 13 May 2020, In: Nano Letters
  • Integrating microfluidics and biosensing on a single flexible acoustic device using hybrid modes, Tao, R., Reboud, J., Torun, H., McHale, G., Dodd, L., Wu, Q., Yang, X., Tao, K., Luo, J., Todryk, S., Fu, Y. 7 Mar 2020, In: Lab on a Chip
  • Interfacial Strategies for Smart Slippery Surfaces, McHale, G., Ledesma Aguilar, R., Wells, G. 8 May 2020, In: Journal of Bionic Engineering
  • Apparent Contact Angles on Lubricant Impregnated Surfaces/SLIPS: From Superhydrophobicity to Electrowetting, McHale, G., Orme, B., Wells, G., Ledesma Aguilar, R. 19 Mar 2019, In: Langmuir
  • Double-sided slippery liquid-infused porous materials using conformable mesh, Geraldi, N., Guan, J., Dodd, L., Maiello, P., Xu, B., Wood, D., Newton, M., Wells, G., McHale, G. 16 Sep 2019, In: Scientific Reports
  • Droplet Retention and Shedding on Slippery Substrates, Orme, B., McHale, G., Ledesma Aguilar, R., Wells, G. 16 Jul 2019, In: Langmuir

PGR Supervision

Jian Guan Droplets on Low Friction Surfaces Start: 07/05/2014



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