Prof Ian Robinson

tel: +44 (0)20 7679-7365
ext: 37365
fax: +44 (0)20 7679 0595


Research interests:

Structure analysis of nanocrystals and nanowires
Surface structure determination by CTR and GISAXS
Phase contrast imaging using hard X-rays
X-ray diffraction methods development


  • My degrees are from Cambridge (Natural Science, 1976) and Harvard (Biophysics, 1981). I worked for 11 years at Bell Labs in its heyday and then started teaching as Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois (Urbana, USA) in 1992. I came to UCL in 2006.

External positions held: 
  • Half time appointment with Diamond Light Source to develop X-ray coherence and imaging methods
  • Leader of the ‘surface and interface’ “village” at DLS

My specialisation is X-ray diffraction using synchrotron radiation. During the Bell Labs years, I developed the methods for studying surface structure using X-ray diffraction. These methods, based on crystal truncation rods, have become the definitive technique for the determination of the atomic positions at surfaces and interfaces. These surface methods are still used today at the major SR facilities, NSLS (Brookhaven), ESRF (Grenoble), APS(Chicago) and SRS (Daresbury). More recently I have been developing method of using the very high coherence of the latest SR sources to enable direct 3D imaging of structure. This is potentially useful for examining strain distributions inside complex materials.
The coherent X-ray diffraction methods will develop and expand further with the inauguration of the new Diamond Light Source (DLS) presently being built at Rutherford Lab near Oxford. My research at UCL is largely focused on this development, although we continue to do experiments at ESRF and APS during the buildup period.

A list of PhD projects is available for donwload

Recent Publications

  • "Longitudinal Coherence Function in X-ray Imaging of Crystals", Steven J. Leake, Marcus C. Newton, Ross Harder and Ian K. Robinson, Optics Express 17 15853 (2009)
  • "Three-Dimensional Imaging of Strain in a Single ZnO Nanorod", Marcus C. Newton, Steven J. Leake, Ross Harder and Ian K. Robinson, submitted to Nature Materials (2009)
  • "Bistable Strain State of Zeolite Microcrystals Imaged by Coherent X-ray Diffraction", Wonsuk Cha, Sanghoon Song, Nak Cheon Jeong, Ross Harder, Kyung Byung Yoon, Ian K. Robinson, Hyunjung Kim, submitted to Nature Materials (2009)
  • "Confocal Microscope Alignment of Nanocrystals for Coherent Diffraction Imaging", Loren Beitra, Moyu Watari, Takashi Matsuura, Naonobu Shimamoto, Ross Harder and Ian Robinson, submitted to Proceedings of Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation (2009)
  • "Imaging of Complex Density in Silver Nanocubes by Coherent X-ray Diffraction", R. Harder, M. Liang, Y. Sun, Y. Xia and I.K. Robinson, submitted to New Journal of Physics (2009)

Research Highlights

Three-dimensional images of a gold nanocrystal
A billon frames per second film has captured the vibrations of gold nanocrystals in stunning detail for the first time....
A diamond-anvil cell
A major breakthrough in measuring the structure of nanomaterials under extremely high pressure has been made by researchers...
Locations of the Aluminium plates (purple) within a 10x10x10 micron block of the
Researchers at the LCN have revealed detailed 3D images of an important industrial coating that is used to reduce corrosion...
Three dimensional image of a gold nanocrystal
A new advance in X-ray imaging has revealed the dramatic three-dimensional shape of gold nanocrystals, and is likely to...
Colour-coded images of surface strains in a gold nanocrystal
Differential stress induced by thiol adsorption on facetted nanocrystals When putting together a medical sensor for blood...
7 July 2006 A vital step towards the ultimate goal of being able to take ‘photographs’ of individual...

Presently teaching 3C25 Solid State Physics