Imperial College London

Professor Michael W. Finnis

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Materials

Chair in Materials Theory and Simulation



+44 (0)20 7594 6812m.finnis Website




2.27BRoyal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





Since his PhD in the Theory of Condensed Matter, Mike has acquired over 40 years experience in the field of theory and simulation of materials. He held posts at Harwell Laboratory, the Fritz-Haber-Institute in Berlin, the Max-Planck-Institut für Metallforschung in Stuttgart, and Queen's Unversity Belfast, where he was Professor in the Atomistic Theory of Materials and Head of the Atomistic Simulation Centre until joining Imperial in January 2006.

He was a founder member of the Thomas Young Centre - London Centre for Theory and Simulation of Materials, and has served as its Director and Deputy Director.

His main research interest is in exploring the links between electronic structure of materials, the behaviour of their atoms, thermodynamic functions and the evolution of microstructure. His joint appointment between the Departments of Physics and of Materials at Imperial is appropriate to the nature of this research.

Mike is a reviewer for EPSRC, and for the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft as well as  other overseas agencies.  He won the Born Medal in 2005 for contributions to the understanding of interatomic forces (the subject of his 2003 book) and for making links between atomic scale modelling and the structure and thermodynamics of interfaces. In 2014  he was a recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Research Award.  In 2017 he won the Mott Medal and prize of the Institute of Physics. He was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society in 2021. In 2022 he won the Dirac Medal of the Instutute of Physics. 

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Chen AP, Foulkes W, Heuer AH, et al., 2022, Diffusion of oxygen in Mg-doped α-Al2O3: the corundum conundrum explained, Physics Review Materials, Vol:6, ISSN:2475-9953, Pages:1-7

Poulou A, Mellan TA, Finnis MW, 2021, Stability of Zr-Al-C and Ti-Al-C MAX phases: A theoretical study, Physical Review Materials, Vol:5, ISSN:2475-9953

Fernandez AD, Charchar P, Cherstvy AG, et al., 2020, The diffusion of doxorubicin drug molecules in silica nanoslits is non-Gaussian, intermittent and anticorrelated, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Vol:22, ISSN:1463-9076, Pages:27955-27965

Finnis MW, Csanyi G, Daff T, et al., 2020, A grand canonical approach for modelling hydrogen trapping at vacancies in alpha-Fe, Physical Review Materials, Vol:4, ISSN:2475-9953

Mellan TA, Duff A, Grabowski B, et al., 2019, Fast anharmonic free energy method with an application to vacancies in ZrC, Physical Review B, Vol:100, ISSN:1098-0121, Pages:024303-1-024303-11

Mellan TA, Duff AI, Finnis MW, 2018, Spontaneous Frenkel pair formation in zirconium carbide, Physical Review B, Vol:98, ISSN:2469-9950

Surendralal S, Todorova M, Finnis MW, et al., 2018, First-principles approach to model electrochemical reactions: understanding the fundamental mechanisms behind Mg corrosion, Physical Review Letters, Vol:120, ISSN:0031-9007

Hadian R, Grabowski B, Finnis MW, et al., 2018, Migration mechanisms of a faceted grain boundary, Physical Review Materials, Vol:2, ISSN:2475-9953

Chua AL-S, Benedek NA, Chen L, et al., 2010, A genetic algorithm for predicting the structures of interfaces in multicomponent systems, Nature Materials, Vol:9, ISSN:1476-1122, Pages:418-422

bf Angioletti-Uberti BS, Ceriotti M, Lee PD, et al., 2010, “Solid-liquid interface free energy through metadynamics simulations”, Physical Review B, Vol:81, Pages:125416-125426

Hine NDM, Frensch K, Foulkes WMC, et al., 2009, Supercell size scaling of density functional theory formation energies of charged defects, Physical Review B, Vol:79, ISSN:2469-9950

Benedek NA, Chua AL-S, Elsaesser C, et al., 2008, Interatomic potentials for strontium titanate: An assessment of their transferability and comparison with density functional theory, Physical Review B, Vol:78, ISSN:1098-0121

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