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Fellows Directory

Russell Cowburn

Russell Cowburn

Professor Russell Cowburn FRS


Elected: 2010





Russell Cowburn is a physicist who has made critical contributions in the field of nanotechnology — the manipulation of matter on a tiny scale. His work has important applications, such as its use in an anti-counterfeiting technology. He has been described as ‘half scientist–half technologist’, having had over 60 patents granted.

Russell is a master at translating discoveries into technologies. One of his key achievements is designing a sensitive laser instrument with the ability to measure magnetism. Another is the invention of an anti-counterfeiting technology known as Laser Surface Authentication that analyses materials such as paper, plastics and ceramics and uses the natural randomness of their surface to generate a fingerprint.

Russell is currently Professor of Experimental Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory, the University of Cambridge. He is also a frequent invited speaker at international conferences. Furthermore, he has won numerous awards, including a European Union ERC Advanced Investigator Grant of €2.8 million in 2009.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Astronomy and physics
    • Magnetism
  • Engineering
    • Materials science (incl materials engineering)


Magnetism, Nanotechnology, Optics, Materials science, Spintronics


  • Clifford Paterson Medal and Lecture

    For his remarkable academic, technical and commercial achievements in nano-magnetics.

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