Recent News

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6th August 2014

New facility to focus on Materials

As part of Diamond's pioneering hard X-ray nanoprobe beamline (I14) and electron microscopy centre, Johnson Matthey and Oxford University will each contribute cutting-edge microscopes from JEOL to support research in the physical sciences. These microscopes will complement two other advanced electron microscopes that will also be built at the new centre as part of a National Facility for Cryo-Electron Microscopy. Overall, the new centre will offer unrivalled facilities for research across the biological and physical sciences after the beamline comes online in Spring 2017.

Professor Angus Kirkland, of Oxford University's Department of Materials, said: 'This facility will provide a world class capability for materials imaging and our collaboration with Johnson Matthey will bring real problems into focus and pose new questions. The combination of the two electron microscopes with the Nanoprobe will deliver unique insights and Diamond will provide the best possible environment to enable scientific interaction.'

Prof Brian Eyre

29th July 2014

Professor Brian Eyre CBE, FRS, FREng

It is with sadness that the department announces the death of one of our most respected and eminent colleagues. Brian made important contributions in nuclear technology, including electron microscopy studies of irradiation damage in metals and alloys and the study of the deformation and fracture processes of metals and alloys. He worked for many years for the Central Electricity Generating Board and then for the UK Atomic Energy Authority, including serving as Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive.  He was also Professor of Materials Science in the University of Liverpool from 1979-84, and a Visiting Professor in Liverpool, UCL and here in Oxford. He was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001, the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1992 and to the Foreign Associates of the US National Academy of Engineering in 2009.  Brian continued to offer his encouragement and advice to younger scientists until a few months ago, and he will be sadly missed by the whole UK nuclear community.

18th July 2014

David Cockayne Centre for Electron Microscopy

On 17th July the Department held an opening ceremony for the newly refurbished “David Cockayne Centre for Electron Microscopy” showcasing five new electron microscopes which have been installed this year significantly expanding the capabilities of the Department’s Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis facility.

Rebecca Nicholls

2nd July 2014

Fellowship in Materials for Energy Applications

The Department congratulates Dr Rebecca Nicholls who has just started an EPSRC Fellowship.  Rebecca won the 5-year EPSRC Fellowship to enable breakthroughs in energy materials using advanced microscopy and modelling.


John Pethica

16th June 2014

Sir John Pethica FRS FREng

Many congratulations to Visiting Professor Sir John Pethica FRS, knighted in the Birthday Honours List for Services to Science.

30th May 2014

Book on Materials Modelling using Density Functional Theory by Feliciano Giustino

Feliciano Giustino just published a book with Oxford University Press, entitled 'Materials Modelling using Density Functional Theory: Properties and Prediction'. This book is an introduction to the modern quantum theory of materials, and primarily addresses senior undergraduates and first-year graduate students in Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, and Chemistry. Atomistic materials modelling is becoming an important component of undergraduate education in Materials Science, and at Oxford Materials we have 3 lecture courses on this topic.

While most books in this subject area are for a specialized audience, the book by Prof. Giustino is intended primarily for an undergraduate readership. The book explains the fundamental ideas of density-functional theory, and how this theory can be used as a powerful method for explaining and even predicting the properties of materials with a stunning accuracy.

The book is available from the OUP catalogue in paperback, hardcover, and eBook version.

1st May 2014

New SUPERGEN Hub to set UK’s energy storage course

A new, £4 million, collaboration between academics and industry that will set the direction and development of research and technologies in Energy Storage, was unveiled today by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), on behalf of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme.

The SUPERGEN Energy Storage Hub will draw experts together from seven universities and fourteen industrial and governmental partners. They will address the technical and scientific challenges facing the wide variety of energy storage techniques.

Led by Professor Peter Bruce FRS based at the University of Oxford, the Hub will develop a shared vision for energy storage in the UK by developing the first integrated national roadmap for energy storage by engaging with the wider community.

Welcoming the funding Professor Bruce said: “Energy storage is more important today than at any time in human history. It has a vital role to play in storing electricity from renewable sources and is key to the electrification of transport. The SUPERGEN Hub will be working with industry, government and the education system to improve the performance of electrochemical, mechanical and thermal devices, develop and tested new materials and optimize thermodynamic processes. All against a background of robust integrated systems.”

The Hub will work with its industrial partners to accelerate the pull through of research to scale up, prototyping and commercialisation.

Philip Nelson EPSRC’s CEO said: “Developing efficient energy storage technologies and infrastructure is crucial to decarbonising and strengthening our energy system and security. Working with industry, this new SUPERGEN Hub will move the UK closer to where it needs to be for a safer, more sustainable future.”

Universities involved in the Hub are:

  • Imperial College London
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Bath
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Warwick

Kyriakos Porfyrakis

14th April 2014

New Spin-out to Manufacture Designer Spherical Nanomaterials

Isis Innovation, the University of Oxford’s technology commercialisation company,  has established a new spinout company, Designer Carbon Materials, based on research from Dr Kyriakos Porfyrakis. The new company will cost-effectively manufacture commercially useful quantities of the spherical carbon cage structures known as fullerenes or bucky-balls for a range of applications.

Tom Hockaday, managing director of Isis Innovation, said: “This is a great example of an Isis spin-out which is both looking at exciting future applications for its technology and also answering a real market need. There is already significant demand for these nanomaterials and we expect the first customer orders will be fulfilled over the next few months.”

 Update December 2015: 


Atom Probe Workshop April 2014

7th April 2014

Atom Probe Workshop for Prof George Smith FRS

On 7th and 8th April 2014 an Atom Probe Workshop was held in the Department of Materials in celebration of Professor George Smith’s research over the past 50 years leading the Atom Probe research group.

The workshop was attended by many international colleagues and leaders in the field of Atom Probe Tomography, as shown in the workshop photograph.

The workshop culminated with Professor George Smith presenting the biannual Hume-Rothery Lecture entitled "Some atoms I have known".  The lecture was recorded and will shortly be available on the podcasts website at

Photo: Greg Smolenski

17th January 2014

Chancellor visits laboratories at Begbroke to announce £67m boost to Oxford Innovation

On Tuesday 28 January 2014, the UK's Chancellor, George Osborne announced that 4 business ‘incubator’ centres in Oxford will between them receive £67 million of investment to develop world leading science technology. The government will provide £30 million to be complemented by industry, Local Authorities and Universities, taking the total to over £67 million for the area.

Visiting the Begbroke Science Park and the Advanced Procesing Laboratory, along with Nicola Blackwood MP, the Chancellor announced over £4million of funding to build a new ‘Innovation Accelerator’ for small high tech manufacturing businesses that specialise in robotics, parts for car and jet engines and superfast computers. The project, which will be funded by government and additional funding from Oxford University, will support researchers to get their products ready for market.

Commenting on the funding for Begbroke, Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: "Oxfordshire is already a powerhouse of innovation and wealth creation – it was recently ranked amongst the world’s top five ‘hotspots’ for innovation – and it is crucial that we build on the region’s unique strengths. Creating a regional environment in which entrepreneurial activity can thrive is good for Oxfordshire and good for Oxford University in its mission to continue to attrct the best students and researchers from around the world."