Graeme Ackland

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  G J 
Professor G J Ackland, FRSE

Professor G J Ackland, FRSE



Contact details

Email: g [dot] j [dot] ackland [at] ed [dot] ac [dot] uk
Tel: +44 (0)131 650 5299
Location: Room 2502, JCMB


Research institute

Research areas

Biographical information


Professor of computer simulation, University of Edinburgh 2003-date

Fulbright Distinguished fellow, Princeton and Rutgers 2001-2

Reader, Universtity of Edinburgh 1999-

Lecturer, University of Edinburgh 1990-

Postdoc, University of Pennsylvania, 1988-89

PhD student (theoretical physics) University of Oxford 1984-87

Undergraduate student (physics) University of Oxford 1982-84

Undergraduate student (engineering) University of Oxford 1981-82

Current research interests

Metallic Hydrogen

High pressure crystal structures

Materials, especially alloy mechanical behaviours

Radiation Damage

Phase transitions, thermodynamics calculations

Neolithic transition in Europe

Daisyworld and astrobiology



I am programme coordinator for the Theoretical Physics Programme.

Theoretical physics is the mainstream course at UoE for students who are more interested in theoratical aspects of physics than experimental one.  It essentially offers the option of taking more formal and mathematical courses, at the expense of laboratory work.

I am chairman of the MSc in High Performance computing, delivered by EPCC.

I teach the Junior Honours course in thermodynamics, currently packaged as 50% of the "Thermal Physics" module.  This is the introductory level course in the subject, taking students from heat capacity, bulk modulus to entropy and phase transitions.

I run a very wide range of Intermediate Masters and Senior Honours projects, all of which are unique, feature an as-yet-unsolved physics problem and (therefore) run once only if successful.  Often these lead to refereed journal publications for the student, the most recent such examples being on radiation-resitant steel and on thermodynamics of the sudoku puzzle.

I contribute an annual poultry-related question to physics skills, and have a page of amusing/difficult problems

Research interests

Computer simulation and Theoretical Physics applied to many interacting objects.

Molecular dynamics of metals.

Interatomic force model for use in molecular dynamics

Density Functional Theory calculations in materials and planetary science, in particular under high pressure.

Simulations of radiation damage in fusion and fission reactors

Theoretical Ecology - foodwebs and daisyworlds. 

Theoretical prehistoric sociology: development/stability of society, cultural hitchhiking, neolithic transition

Algorithmic non-equilibrium economics - poverty, imperfect information and spatial variation. 

My research in a nutshell

Research groups




Administrative roles

Head of ICMCS

Research students

Bengt Tegner (Graduated 2014)

Con Healy (Graduated 2014)

Rachel Husband (Graduated 2015)

Graham Galloway (Graduated 2014)

Flaviu Ciprogan

Ioan Magdau

Iain Bethune

Christian Loach

Joshua Hellier


Recent publications

  1. Lattice-switch Monte Carlo: the fcc-bcc problem DOI
    and , Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 640, 1
  2. High temperature oxidation resistance in titanium-niobium alloys DOI
    , , , and , Journal of alloys and compounds, 643, p. 100-105
  3. Transition metal solute interactions with point defects in fcc iron from first principles DOI
    , and , Physical Review B: Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, 92, 1
  4. Bearing down on hydrogen DOI
    , Science, 348, 6242, p. 1429-1430
  5. Appraisal of the realistic accuracy of molecular dynamics of high-pressure hydrogen DOI
    and , Cogent Physics, 2