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Prof Peter Nellist

Lecturer in Materials Science


I took my BA and PhD at Cambridge University before heading west to a post-doctoral position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. I was tempted back to Cambridge by a Research Fellowship at Magdalene College, and shortly afterwards was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. I transferred this fellowship to the University of Birmingham for two years, but in 2000 I decided to try something outside academia by getting involved in a start-up company in Seattle. In 2004, I realised that I was starting to miss teaching so decided to return to academia, first to a lectureship at Trinity College Dublin, and two years later to my current position as Tutor for Materials Science at Corpus and Professor of Materials in the Department of Materials Science. 


Teaching Materials Science is wonderfully varied, and in one day my teaching activities can range, for example, from detailed mathematics and the theory of bonding in solids to a discussion what happens when a piece of metal is extruded. Oxford also offers the opportunity to use a wide variety of teaching methods. Small group tutorial teaching allows really detailed discussion with students about a specific piece of science, whereas lectures allow me to rant on enthusiastically about something I find interesting, and perhaps perform a demonstration. My teaching areas generally focus on the characterisation of materials and the properties of materials, and these areas reflect my general interest in understanding how detailed atomic structure can control macroscopic properties.


I work with some of the most powerful electron microscopes in the world, developing new techniques for the atomic resolution characterisation of materials. In particular I am interested in taking advantage of the revolutionary changes to the field presented by the development of spherical aberration correctors. These are like spectacles for a microscope, and allow even smaller things to be seen. I collaborate with a number of groups worldwide, and sit on a number of committees and boards. I am currently Vice-President of the Royal Microscopical Society, I sit on the Management Consortium Committee, and I act as the Scientific Champion for the national SuperSTEM facility. In 2007 I was awarded the Burton Medal by the Microscopy Society of America.  In 2009 I won a University of Oxford Teaching Award.  I won the 2013 Ernst Ruska Prize for Electron Microscopy and the 2015 European Microscopy Society Best Paper Award in Materials Science.


First experimental demonstration of ptychography as a method of the solving the phase problem and extending the resolution of the scanning transmission electron microscope. P. D. Nellist, B. C. McCallum and J. M. Rodenburg, Nature 374 (1995) 630-632.

First direct imaging of single atoms in a sample of a real ultra-dispersed catalyst system. P. D. Nellist and S. J. Pennycook, Science 274 (1996) 413-415

Derivation of chromatic coherence envelope for incoherent imaging and improvement in resolution using underfocused imaging. P. D. Nellist and S. J. Pennycook, Phys. Rev. Lett. 81 (1998) 4156-4159; see also Nature 396 (1998) 311.

Design of a 5th order aberration corrector for the STEM. O. L. Krivanek, P. D. Nellist and N Dellby, US Patent No. 6,770,887, 2002.

Direct STEM imaging of a crystalline lattice at a resolution below 0.1 nm. P. D. Nellist, M. F. Chisholm, N. Dellby, O. L. Krivanek, M. F. Murfitt, Z. S. Szilagyi, A. R. Lupini, A. Borisevich, W. H. Sides and S. J. Pennycook, Science 305 (2004) 1741-1741.

Nanoscale Energy-Filtered Scanning Confocal Electron Microscopy Using a Double-Aberration-Corrected Transmission Electron Microscope. P. Wang, G. Behan, M. Takeguchi, A. Hashimoto, K. Mitsuishi, M. Shimojo, A. I. Kirkland and P. D. Nellist  Physical Review Letters 104 (2010) 200801.

Imaging screw dislocations at atomic resolution by aberration-corrected electron optical sectioning. H. Yang, J.G. Lozano, T.J. Pennycook, L. Jones, P.B. Hirsch and P.D. Nellist, Nature Communications 6 (2015) 7266. 

Simultaneous atomic-resolution electron ptychography and Z-contrast imaging of light and heavy elements in complex nanostructures. H. Yang, R.N. Rutte, L. Jones, M. Simson, R. Sagawa, H. Ryll, M. Huth, T.J. Pennycook, M.L.H. Green, H. Soltau, Y. Kondo, B.G. Davis, P.D. Nellist,  Nature Communications, 7 (2016) 12532. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12532.