Graeme Whyte

Associate Professor

+44 (0)131 451 3053
Room G.44
David Brewster Building
Heriot-Watt University
Roles and responsibilities

Lecturer in Optical Sensing and Energy Studies (B20OE)

Exchange student co-ordinator for physics


Single-cell rotation

Modern microscopes offer a fantastic view inside living cells and recent advances have pushed the level of detail to be able to visualise single protein molecules. Despite these advances, the resolution in the depth of the sample lags behind, resulting in very detailed two-dimensional images but difficulty in measuring and quantifying three-dimensional structures.Optical traps offer a solution to be able to hold and controllably rotate living cells, giving the ability to image it from multiple angles and so accurately reconstruct its three-dimensional structure. We are developing new optical and microfluidic techniques to gain more control over this rotation to increase the achievable resolution, while also  making it easier to use and compatible with a increasing number of microscopy techniques, opening up the technique to a wide audience.

Microfluidic cell-mechanics measurements

Identifying when something goes wrong inside a cell is of critical importance to early disease diagnostics, however most techniques rely on either introducing an external probe or stain to give a trained expert enough contrast to make a decision, or mashing up millions of cells and looking at the results. However recent advances have made it possible to look at the inherent mechanical properties of single cells. Changes in the cell mechanics have been correlated to a wide variety of diseases and changes in cell state, which can now be readily identified without the need for the addition of contrast agents.By harnessing the power of microfluidics, we are developing new techniques to be able to measure the mechanical properties faster and in higher detail than before. The use of microfluidic networks of microscopic channels, allows rapid measurement of the cells inherent mechanical properties in a high-throughput and non-destructive way.

Selected publications
  • Dynamic operation of optical fibres beyond single-mode regime facilitates the orientation of biological cells, M Kreysing, D Ott, M Schmidberger, O Otto, M Schürmann, E Martín-Badosa, G Whyte, J Guck, , Nature Communications, 5 5481 (2014) 10.1038/ncomms6481
  • Rotation of living cells for single-cell tomography , T Kolb, S Albert, M Haug, G Whyte, Optofluidic, J. Biophotonics, in press (2014) 10.1002/jbio.201300196
  • Dynamically reconfigurable Optical Spanner, T Kolb, S Albert, M Haug, G Whyte , Lab on a Chip, 14, 1186 (2014) 10.1039/C3LC51277K
  • Viscoelastic properties of differentiating cells are fate- and function-dependent, A Ekpenyong, G Whyte, K Chalut, F Lautenschlaeger, C Fiddler, D Olin, E Chilvers, M Beil, J Guck, PLoS ONE 7(9) (2012) 10.1371/journal.pone.0045237
  • Coupling Microdroplet Microreactors with Mass Spectrometry: Reading the Contents of Single Droplets Online, LM Fidalgo, G Whyte, BT Ruotolo, JLP Benesch, F Stengel, C Abell, CV Robinson and WTS Huck, Angewandte, 48, 3665 (2009) 10.1002/anie.200806103
  • From Microdroplets to Microfluidics: Selective Emulsion Separation in Microfluidic Devices, LM Fidalgo, G Whyte, D Bratton, C Kaminski, C Abell, WTS Huck, Angewandte, 47, 2042 (2008) 10.1002/anie.200704903

Dr Graeme Whyte joined Heriot-Watt University in 2014 as an Associate Professor. After obtaining his BSc in Physics from Glasgow University, he continued at Glasgow in the group of Miles Padgett and was awarded a PhD in 2007. In 2006, he moved to Cambridge University to work in the microdroplets group under Wilhelm Huck and Clemens Kaminski, developing novel microfluidic tools for the generation, manipulation and detection of microdroplets. After several years, he returned to physics, and in 2009 moved to the Physics of Medicine initiative within the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University under the supervision of Jochen Guck, where he used microfluidics and optics to investigate the mechanical properties of living cells. In 2012 he was awarded a Rising Star Junior Professorship at the Fredrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg where he led his own team developing new tools and techniques for probing deeper into living cells.