Portrait of Dr Gavin Mountjoy

Dr Gavin Mountjoy

Reader in Condensed Matter Physics
TEF Co-ordinator


Dr Gavin Mountjoy first studied Physics at Victoria University of Wellington where he obtained a BSc. A Commonwealth Scholarship enabled him to undertake a PhD in the Microstructural Physics Group at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. This was followed by work as a Research Associate in the Center for Solid State Science at Arizona State University, USA. In 2001 Gavin was appointed as a Lecturer in the School of Physical Sciences at University of Kent.  In 2005-2006, he undertook a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship in the Functional Materials Group, University of Cagliari, Italy.  Gavin returned to the School of Physical Sciences at Kent in 2007 as a Senior Lecturer, and in 2013 he was appointed Reader.

Research interests

The over-arching field of Dr Mountjoy's research is structural characterisation of novel oxide materials. Gavin has concentrated on X-ray and neutron scattering, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, and molecular dynamics modelling, but his expertise also encompasses transmission electron microscopy and vibrational spectroscopy. He is currently working on the New Ceria Based Materials for Challenges in Energy and Environment research project.

The first strong theme in Gavin's research has been identifying local environment of metal ions in silicate and phosphate glasses and sol-gels. This is important because local environment is key to applications such as catalysis.

A second theme has been use of X-ray absorption spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy to characterise nanocrystalline metals and oxides. This has been in the context of battery materials, and nanocomposite materials with useful magnetic or catalytic properties.

In recent years a third theme for Gavin has been molecular dynamics modelling of aluminate, silicate and phosphate glasses. This approach has been motivated by interest in glass properties such as durability (for nuclear waste immobilisation), or luminescence (for optical amplifiers).

Currently, a fourth theme of great interest is characterising the structure of amorphous biominerals. Biominerals are usually crystals that form the skeleton of organisms. Identifying the structure of non-crystalline biominerals is important for improving understanding of biomineralisation processes.


Gavin teaches in a range of areas within physics including motion and mechanics, and atomic and nuclear physics, in addition to forensic archaeology and topics in functional materials. 


Research projects being done by recent/existing postgraduate students

  • Structure of iron phosphate glasses for nuclear waste immobilisation
  • In-situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy of new lithium battery materials
  • Structure of amorphous calcium carbonate in mollusc shells
  • Structure of heavy metal fluoride glasses for infrared fibre guides

Research projects potentially available for new postgraduate students

  • Development of glasses containing persistent phosphor nanocrystals
  • Structural origin of conductivity in oxide glasses for energy applications
  • Distribution and rare earth ion sites in glasses for fibre amplifiers 
  • Novel amorphous oxides from precipitation and ball milling
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