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Fellows Directory

Michael Woolfson

Michael Woolfson

Professor Michael Woolfson FRS


Elected: 1984


Michael Woolfson is a leading X-ray crystallographer. He made great progress towards a general solution of the problem of determining crystal structures, and was responsible for the use of direct methods that enabled structures to be deduced directly from the diffraction data. His devices, such as the computer package MULTAN, were responsible for about half of the structures determined around the world in the 1980s. His parallel work on the origin of the Solar System renewed interest in the capture theory, which had been thought to be obsolete, and he contributed numerous stimulating ideas to the general study of the origin and dynamical evolution of the Solar System. He was Chairman of the Royal Society’s Subcommittee on Planetary Sciences.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Astronomy and physics
    • Crystallography, Planetary science (Astronomy and Physics)


  • Hughes Medal

    For the creation of algorithms including MULTAN and SAYTAN which are used world-wide to solve the majority of reported crystal structures.

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