Prize Recipient

Alan Mackay
Birkbeck College, Emeritus


"For pioneering contributions to the theory of quasicrystals, including the prediction of their diffraction pattern."


Alan Mackay (1926-), retired as Emeritus in 1991 from his position as Professor of Crystallography at Birkbeck College in the University of London.

He was educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School and Oundle School and entered Cambridge University with a major entrance scholarship at Trinity College in 1944. He read physics, with half subjects chemistry, electronics and mineralogy and graduated in 1947. He then worked at Philips Electrical for two years and in 1951 took a Ph.D. degree (D.Sc. 1986) in the Department of Physics at Birkbeck College, London, then headed by J.D. Bernal, on X-ray crystal structure analysis. He then spent almost all his career at Birkbeck College, becoming professor in 1986. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1988. His work has concerned such topics as corrosion, symmetry theory, the generalization of the concepts of traditional crystallography, especially the appearance of quasi-crystals, and the applications of electron microscopy.

During sabbatical periods he has worked in Moscow, in South Korea and in Japan and travelled widely in Asia but especially after retirement he has collaborated with colleagues in the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and in Mexico. As a result he became a foreign member of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology and of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and of the Materials Research Society of India. Throughout his career he has been concerned also with the social and political connections of science, especially in Asia, producing a wide spectrum of papers in this area.

Selection Committee:

 David Awschalom, Chair, L. Radzihovsky, J. Moodera, N.D. Goldenfeld, M. Beasley