UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy

Prof Desmond Mcmorrow

Prof Desmond Mcmorrow

Chair in Experimental Physics

London Centre for Nanotechnology

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2004

Research summary

My research is focussed on understanding how electrons organise themselves in solids to produce the wonderfully diverse range of phenomena encountered in modern condensed matter physics. I am particularly interested in how low-dimensionality and strong collective quantum effects can produce new states of matter, such as the high-temperature superconductors, quantum spin liquids, etc. 

The techniques I develop are based mainly on using x-rays and neutrons to probe the structural and magnetic correlations that dominate the low-energy behaviour of these and other interesting classes of solids. This invariably means that I spend significant periods of time at central facilities such as ISIS and the Diamond Light Source  in Oxfordshire, and the Institute Laue-Langevin and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, both located in Grenoble, France.

Teaching summary

I have developed and delivered two full lecture courses since 2004:

  • 2004-2010:      4472 Order and Excitations in Condensed Matter
  • 2011-present:   3225 Solid State Physics

I also deliver lectures at numerous schools and workshops.

I have co-authored with Jens Als-Nielsen the textbook "Elements of Modern X-ray Physics"
(John Wiley and Sons). This is now in its second edition, has become established as a standard text for teaching X-ray Physics, and has been translated into Japanese and Chinese.


University of Manchester
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1987
University of Manchester
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Diploma of Advanced Studies | 1984
University of Sheffield
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1983


  • 2004-present  Professor of Physics, UCL
  • 2016-present EPSRC Established Career Fellowship
  • 2015-2018      Vice Dean for Research, MAPS Faculty
  • 2014-2015 Director (acting), London Centre for Nanotechnology, UCL
  • 2008-2014 Deputy Director, London Centre for Nanotechnology, UCL
  • 2004-2009  Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award
  • 2002-2003  Senior Research Scientist, Riso National Laboratory, Denmark
  • 2000-2002  Head of Research Programme, X-ray and Neutron scattering, Risø 
  • 1998-2003  External lecturer in Physics, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen
  • 1993-2000  Senior Scientist, Risø National Laboratory
  • 1991-1993  Senior College Lecturer, Keble College, Oxford
  • 1990-1993  Research Fellow, Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford
  • 1987-1990  Research Fellow, Physics Department, University of Edinburgh
  • 1983-1987  Ph.D., University of Manchester
  • 1979-1983  B.Sc. in Physics, University of Sheffield