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Fellows Directory

George Smith

George Smith

Professor George Smith FRS


Elected: 1996


George Smith is a materials scientist who helped to develop atom probe tomography, a technique capable of imaging individual atoms in a solid to determine their arrangement as well as their chemical composition. George subsequently commercialised his instruments, which have been adopted for use by researchers around the world.

The technique was born of George’s research into the closely related field ion microscopy. Over many years, he built up a world-leading research group and atom probe facility, which transformed atom probe tomography into a powerful technique for the study of materials on the nanoscale in three dimensions.

By applying the atom probe to investigate alloys such as steel, George revealed structural changes that occur under conditions with relevance to industrial settings — heating and irradiation, for example. He also extended the technique to semiconductors by using laser pulsing to remove surface atoms for analysis, overcoming issues that previously limited their application.

Professional positions

, Sino-British Fellowship Trust

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Engineering
    • Materials science (incl materials engineering)
  • Other
    • Science policy


  • Royal Society Armourers & Brasiers' Company Prize

    He is a pioneer and leader in the development of engineering alloys through the invention and application of the three-dimensional atom probe, making profound contributions to basic understanding and industrial applications.

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