Dr Oscar Knights


Oscar Knights studied Physics at the University of Hull in the UK and later graduated with a Master of Physics degree in 2015. He then went on to study for a Ph.D. as part of the Leeds Ultrasound Group at the University of Leeds in the UK, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). His primary research area is in the development of technologies for precision medicines in oncology, specifically with regards to gold nanoparticle-mediated medical photoacoustics and photothermal therapy.

Research interests

Photothermal Therapy (PTT) is a potentially significant form of cancer treatment, providing a minimally invasive method of destroying cancerous tissue. Laser light - usually tuned to the near-infrared - is indicent on a tumour containing nanoparticles, and is used to induce hyperthermia within the tumour. Noble metal nanoparticles, such as gold nanoparticles, are used to help enhance the optical contrast between cancerous tissue and the surrounding healthy tissue, ensuring a highly targeted cancer therapy. Rod-shaped gold nanoparticles, known as gold nanorods, have shown to be extremely efficient in converting laser light heat, while also displaying good biocompatilibty, easy functionalistion, and localised surface plasmon resonances (LSPRs) tunable into the near-infrared - a trate that is particularly useful since biological tissue exhibits reduced absorption in the near-infrared, allowing deeper penetration depths. 

This techinque could potentially be combined with another well-known and highly promising imaging modality called Photoacoustic Imaging. This imaging process arises from a phenomena called photoacoustics, where a pulsed laser is used to rapidly heat an area of interest, causing the emission of ultrasonic waves, that can be detected via a transducer. Nanoparticles can be used as contrast agents to increase the sensitivity of the imaging technique and improve outcomes. If these two techniques were to be combined, it would allow the simultaneous imaging and treatment of a cancerous region, improving patient outcome.


  • MPhys
  • PhD

Research groups and institutes

  • Pollard Institute
  • Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering