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Fellows Directory

Richard Nelmes

Professor Richard Nelmes OBE FRS


Elected: 2003


Richard Nelmes is a physical crystallographer who specialises in the high-pressure crystal structures and properties of fundamental materials like silicon, ice, methane and metallic elements, up to pressures of 1 million atmospheres. His findings have relevance for topics as diverse as semiconductors and the formation of the methane-rich atmosphere of Saturn’s moon, Titan.

Richard led the creation of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions, which opened in 2004, and continues to serve as its Chairman. Since the 1990s, he has had a second base at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, where he devised novel high-pressure neutron-scattering facilities and was involved in establishing the Diamond Light Source X-ray synchrotron. He and his group have pioneered high-pressure X-ray diffraction methods now used worldwide on synchrotron sources.

Richard’s efforts have led to the discovery of a wealth of unexpected structural complexity in previously uncharacterised phases. His development of novel techniques and facilities was recognised by the 2007 Duddell Medal from the Institute of Physics. In addition, Richard received an OBE in 2000 for services to science.

Professional positions

Professor Emeritus and Honorary Professorial Fellow, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
Chairman, Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions, University of Edinburgh
Honorary Scientist, ISIS Facility, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


High-pressure physics, Research infrastructure