2018 David Tabor Medal and Prize

Professor Adrian Sutton of Imperial College London for his definitive contributions to the nanophysics of interfaces in crystalline materials, atomic and electronic structures of surfaces, dislocations and kinks, current-induced mechanical instabilities in nanowires, and dislocation elastodynamics during shock loading.

2018 David Tabor Medal and Prize Adrian Sutton

Professor Adrian Sutton has given contributions to nanophysics and surface science which have stood the test of time. His 852-page monograph with Balluffi defined the science of interfaces in crystalline materials, and his structural unit model has been used for the past 35 years to interpret experimental images of grain boundaries in metallic, covalent and ionic crystals. More recently he highlighted the crucial importance of allowing the planar density of atoms at grain boundaries to vary, which has since been widely incorporated into simulations of grain boundaries and has challenged some long-held beliefs.

His pioneering first principles calculations of kinks on dislocations in silicon showed that they are fully reconstructed, which cast doubt on existing theories of the dopant effect where dislocation mobility is enhanced through doping. He led a team to develop the first and only elastodynamic simulations of dislocation dynamics during shock loading, explaining the long-standing mystery concerning the decay of the yield stress as a shock wave propagates through a metal as an interference phenomenon between elastic waves.

Working with Pethica on scanning probe microscopies he revealed the mechanical instability when a tip is brought close to a surface that results in a jump-to-contact. With Dudarev he developed the theory and carried out the first simulations of STM images and EELS spectra of strongly correlated oxides, explaining a host of experimental images of surfaces of NiO, CoO and UO2.  He explained the tilting of surfaces of nanocrystalline copper films where grain boundaries impinge on the surface, as observed by Boland using STM. He showed that this new form of surface roughness is due to a change of the rotation axis of the grain boundaries to reduce their energy, and that it is expected whenever the stacking fault energy is low.

With Todorov he developed the theory of current-induced forces in nanoscale contacts and applied it in the first simulations of electromigration and current-induced embrittlement of nanowires. They also showed that experimentally observed jumps in electronic conductance of metallic nanowires, when stretched to fracture, result from mechanical instabilities rather than conductance quantisation, but conductance quantisation is more likely at higher temperatures.

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