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Fellows Directory

Robin Nicholson

Sir Robin Nicholson FREng FRS


Elected: 1978


Robin Nicholson is a metallurgist who pioneered the use of electron microscopes to obtain high-resolution images in aluminium alloys of fine structures caused by precipitation — when solids form within a solution or another solid. He showed that distortions of the crystal lattice existed around the particles of precipitated solids. His work underpins our understanding of how metals can be strengthened through ‘alloy design’.

Robin’s career spanned the academic, private and public sectors. He was a professor at the University of Manchester before joining nickel company, Inco, in 1972. In 1981, he joined the staff of the Cabinet Office, before becoming its Chief Scientific Adviser.

Robin also served as a member of the Science and Engineering Research Council and on the Council for Science and Technology. He later returned to the private sector with roles at Pilkington, Rolls-Royce and BP. He was the first Chairman of the National Energy Foundation and was knighted in 1985.


  • Philips Lecture

    On 'Industrial research: success and failure'.