Dr Maya Al Sid Cheikh

Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry
+44 (0)1483 686844
37 AZ 03

Academic and research departments

School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.


Areas of specialism

Radiochimistry; Analytical Chemistry; Environmental Chemistry; Ecotoxicology; Oceanography

University roles and responsibilities

  • Deputy Radioprotection supervisor (RPS)
  • Leader of the 'Applied RadioIsotope & Environmental Laboratory' (ARIEL)

    My qualifications

    PhD in Geochemistry
    University of Rennes 1, France
    MSc Oceanography Speciality Ecotoxicology
    University of Quebec at Rimouski, Canada
    MSc. in Environmental Analytical Chemistry

    Research project done in LPTC/EPOC University Bordeaux 1
    University of Toulon, France
    BSc. in Physics and Chemistry
    University of Poitiers, France

    Affiliations and memberships

    Associate Member (AMRSC)
    Royal society of chemistry


    Research interests


    Postgraduate research supervision



    Maria Elvira Murazzi, Paolo Cherubini, Ivano Brunner, Ralf Kaegi, Matthias Saurer, Paula Ballikaya, Frank Hagedorn, Maya Al Sid Cheikh, Gabriela Onandia, Arthur Gessler, Maya Al Sid Cheikh (2022)Can forest trees take up and transport nanoplastics?, In: IForest (Viterbo)15(2)128pp. 128-132 Sisef-Soc Italiana Selvicoltura Ecol Forestale

    Plastic contamination of ecosystems has increased dramatically over the last decades, raising concerns about the negative impacts of plastic particles on aquatic and terrestrial systems. In recent years, the focus of most research has shifted from large fragments (macroplastic) to micro- (

    Maya Al-Sid-Cheikh, Steven J. Rowland, Ralf Kaegi, Theodore B. Henry, Marc-Andre Cormier, Richard C. Thompson (2020)Synthesis of C-14-labelled polystyrene nanoplastics for environmental studies, In: Communications materials1(1)97 Springer Nature

    Available analytical methods cannot detect nanoplastics at environmentally realistic concentrations in complex matrices such as biological tissues. Here, we describe a one-step polymerization method, allowing direct radiolabeling of a sulfonate end-capped nano-sized polystyrene (nPS; proposed as a model nanoplastic particle representing negatively charged nanoplastics). The method, which produces nanoplastics trackable in simulated environmental settings which have already been used to investigate the behavior of a nanoplastic in vivo in a bivalve mollusc, was developed, optimized and successfully applied to synthesis of C-14-labeled nPS of different sizes. In addition to a description of the method of synthesis, we describe the details for quantification, mass balance and recovery of the labelled particles from complex matrices offered by the radiolabelling approach. The radiolabeling approach described here, coupled to use of a highly sensitive autoradiographic method for monitoring nanoplastic body burden and distributions, may provide a valuable procedure for investigating the environmental pathways followed by negatively charged nanoplastics at low predicted environmental concentrations. Whether the behaviour of the synthetic nPS manufactured here, synthesised using a very common inititator, represents that of manufactured nPS found in the environment, remains to be seen. Nanoplastics are a substantial environmental risk, and it is important to understanding where and how they are released into the environment. Here, a simple methodology is reported for the one-step synthesis of radiolabelled nanopolystyrene that can be used in environmental studies.

    Lydia J. Knight, Florence N. F. Parker-Jurd, Maya Al-Sid-Cheikh, Richard C. Thompson (2020)Tyre wear particles: an abundant yet widely unreported microplastic?, In: Environmental science and pollution research international27(15)18345pp. 18345-18354 Springer Nature

    Owing to their physical and chemical properties, particles generated by the abrasion of tyre tread against road surfaces, or tyre wear particles, are recognised as microplastics. Recent desk-based studies suggest tyre wear to be a major contributor of microplastic emissions to the environment. This study aimed to quantify tyre wear in roadside drains and the natural environment near to a major road intersection. Tyre particles were identified by visual identification and a subsample confirmed as tyre wear by GC-MS using N-cyclohexyl-2-benzothiazolamine (NCBA) as a marker. The abundance of tyre wear within roadside drains was greater in areas associated with increased braking and accelerating than that with high traffic densities (p = < 0.05). Tyre particle abundance in the natural environment ranged from 0.6 +/- 0.33 to 65 +/- 7.36 in 5 mL of material, with some evidence of decline with distance from the road. This study offers preliminary data regarding the generation and abundance of this under-researched microplastic.

    Isabel Helen Balbir Braddock, Maya Al Sid Cheikh, Joydip Ghosh, Roma Eve Mulholland, Joseph Gerard O'Neill, Vlad Stolojan, Carol Crean, Stephen Sweeney, Paul Jonathan Sellin (2022)Formamidinium Lead Halide Perovskite Nanocomposite Scintillators, In: Nanomaterials (Basel, Switzerland)12(13) Mdpi

    While there is great demand for effective, affordable radiation detectors in various applications, many commonly used scintillators have major drawbacks. Conventional inorganic scintillators have a fixed emission wavelength and require expensive, high-temperature synthesis; plastic scintillators, while fast, inexpensive, and robust, have low atomic numbers, limiting their X-ray stopping power. Formamidinium lead halide perovskite nanocrystals show promise as scintillators due to their high X-ray attenuation coefficient and bright luminescence. Here, we used a room-temperature, solution-growth method to produce mixed-halide FAPbX(3) (X = Cl, Br) nanocrystals with emission wavelengths that can be varied between 403 and 531 nm via adjustments to the halide ratio. The substitution of bromine for increasing amounts of chlorine resulted in violet emission with faster lifetimes, while larger proportions of bromine resulted in green emission with increased luminescence intensity. By loading FAPbBr(3) nanocrystals into a PVT-based plastic scintillator matrix, we produced 1 mm-thick nanocomposite scintillators, which have brighter luminescence than the PVT-based plastic scintillator alone. While nanocomposites such as these are often opaque due to optical scattering from aggregates of the nanoparticles, we used a surface modification technique to improve transmission through the composites. A composite of FAPbBr(3) nanocrystals encapsulated in inert PMMA produced even stronger luminescence, with intensity 3.8 x greater than a comparative FAPbBr(3)/plastic scintillator composite. However, the luminescence decay time of the FAPbBr(3)/PMMA composite was more than 3 x slower than that of the FAPbBr(3)/plastic scintillator composite. We also demonstrate the potential of these lead halide perovskite nanocomposite scintillators for low-cost X-ray imaging applications.

    Additional publications