BSc (St Andrews) PhD (Cantab) ScD (Cantab) Dr Hon Causa (Orleans) FGST FInstP
Distinguished Research Professor
Room Number..........:  3.21
Building....................:  Physical Sciences
Phone.......................:   +44 (0)1970 621907
Home Page...............:   Personal
Educated at King Edward VII School and a graduate in Natural Philosophy from the University of St Andrews, I worked in industry before obtaining my PhD in Amorphous Semiconductors at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge. This included working with the Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Nevill Mott.
I joined the Synchrotron Radiation Source at Daresbury Laboratory in 1978, where I built up X-ray Spectroscopy facilities and established the Materials Science Division. Together we pioneered the development of combined X-ray techniques whereby spectroscopy, diffraction and scattering can all be measured in the same experiment. In 1990 I received the Science and Technology Award presented by the Guild of Glass Sellers for my work on glass structure. In 1994 I started the international conference series on Synchrotron Radiation in Materials Science and between1994-96 I was the UK International Advisory Committee Member for the world’s largest synchrotron radiation source, SPring-8 in Japan.
In 1996 I was elected to the Chair of Physics at Aberystwyth and was head of department until 2003. During that time I was also a member of the Royal Institution Davy Faraday Research Laboratory Committee. I received a Doctor Honoris Causa at the University of Orleans in 2002 for advancing the understanding of disordered materials using synchrotron radiation.
In 2003 I was appointed Director of the Institute of Mathematics and Physics at Aberystwyth University, continuing until 2010. Between 2005 and 2009 I served on the Council of the Institute of Physics. I was awarded a Scientiae Doctor at the University of Cambridge in 2008. I joined the Science Board of the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council in 2009. In the same year I was awarded an Honorary Chair at University College London.
In 2010 I became a Distinguished Research Professor in Physics at Aberystwyth University and also a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge. I received the 2011 George W Morey Award, from the American Ceramic Society, for major contributions to the field of glass science. International workshops marking my 65th and 70th birthdays were held at University College London and at the Royal Society. In 2012 I was awarded a DAAD scholarship for collaborative work on ultra-high temperature liquids at German Aerospace, Cologne. In the same year I was elected a Foreign Learned Scholar at Shanghai University, and also became a Visiting Research Fellow at Sidney Sussex College Cambridge. Wuhan University of Technology elected me their Strategic Scientist in 2013. In 2016 I was the Cooper Distinguished Lecturer at the annual meeting of the American Ceramic Society.
My other interests include poetry and music, and with my wife I have also restored an Elizabethan Merchants house in Cheshire.
- Physics and Chemistry of Complex Materials: My principal research relates to the physics and chemistry of complex materials – inorganic glasses, glass forming liquids and amorphising solids (Advances in Physics 56, 1, 2007). Earlier in my career I pioneered discovery of the electronic structure of amorphous semiconductors like arsenic (Advances in Physics 28, 49, 1979). With the advent of dedicated synchrotron radiation sources, I turned to metals and glasses, modelling the structure and dynamics (Nature, 293, 611 (1981), Nature, 294, 139 (1981), Nature 356, 504 (1992)) which led to the Modified Random Network model, now generally accepted as describing the nanostructure of most glasses. Often my research has been underpinned by instrument development, such as combining X-ray techniques, for instance, to follow in situ the operation of catalysts (Nature, 354, 465 (1991), Science, 265, 1675 (1994), Nature Materials 7, 827 (2008)), and also the amorphization of crystalline materials such as zeolites (Nature Materials 2, 622 (2003)). In the latter case this has led to the discovery of novel hybrid glasses (Nature Communications 6 8079 (2015)). In conjunction with the development of laser-heated aerodynamic levitation furnaces, high speed videoing and calorimetry, liquid-liquid transitions were identified for the first time (Science 322, 566 (2008)). Subsequently, using the ‘wobbling drop’ technique, thermo-physical properties, such as viscosity, have now been demonstrated at ultra-high temperatures, for example up for alumina up to its boiling point at 3300 K from the deeply super-cooled state (Review of Scientific Instruments 84, 124901 (2013), International Journal of Microgravity Scientific Applications 32, 320200 (2015)). Many of these discoveries are now providing surprisingly new insight into mechanical properties, such as Poisson’s ratio, of glasses quenched from super-cooled liquids (Nature Materials 10, 823 (2011), Notes and Records of the Royal Society 67, 37 (2012)). In parallel with this research, I have exploited novel inelastic neutron scattering methods to identify collective terahertz modes in precipitating zeolite collapse and also in characterizing the glassy state (Science 308, 1299 (2005)). Together with terahertz spectroscopy and atomistic modelling, in situ Neutron Compton Scattering is now being directed at tracing and understanding the mechanical toughness of bio-cements as they set (Nature Communications 6 8631 (2015)). With 331 papers published, 15 plenary/invited lectures have been presented in the last 3 years.