Dr Stephen King

Principal Scientist

Location R 3, 1. 23
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
E-mail stephen.king@stfc.ac.uk
Telephone (office) +44 (0) 1235 446437

Introduction and profile

MSc (Bristol), PhD(Bristol), FRSC, CChem

I am a Principal Scientist at ISIS with over 20 years experience in the technique of small-angle neutron scattering (SANS).

I study the complex and intricate structure of materials ranging from plastics to nanoparticles. What makes this research so valuable is the wealth of detail that I can obtain about the size, shape, and orientation of molecules and the interactions between them. I am able to look at structures more than 1000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair; ‘the nanoscale’. This is actually a world far more prevalent than most people realise and which impacts modern society in many different areas. For example, my research has helped guide the design of new drug delivery systems, paint formulations and fuel additives (by providing physico-chemical explanations for clinical or in-service observations); improved the mechanical properties and processing of engineering plastics (leading to greater sustainability and energy efficiency during manufacture); shown how the resilience of modern synthetic fibre ropes is affected by detergents (which has important health and safety implications); provided new insights into how tiny particles of clay transport pollutants in rivers (and thus influence the ecology of the aquatic environment); and investigated the fate of man-made nanoparticles in our wastewater treatment systems.

I am an author or co-author of over 100 research papers in scientific journals and have written 4 chapters for textbooks.

I have also  consulted for several companies in the pharmaceutical and petrochemical arenas.

Research and development interests

In the last couple of years I have been developing the application of SANS in the newly-emerging discipline of Environmental Nanoscience.  This work has been conducted with collaborators at the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the School of Biomedical & Health Sciences at King’s College London.  The work has received media attention. I also have interests in the self-assembly of polymers and surfactants in solution, and polymer adsorption at interfaces.

I help run the 'SAS Portal' (www.smallangle.org) - a 'one-stop shop' for the SAS community, am part of an international network (www.cansas.org) promoting better standardization in small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering, and help develop software for the analysis of small-angle scattering data (www.sasview.org & www.ccpsas.org).

Professional activities: Memberships/External organisations

Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Member of the Society of Chemical Industry

Grants, awards, teaching and other activities


I teach a practical module on SANS on the ISIS Neutron Training Course.

Selected external activities:

2013-         Executive Committee Member, CCP-SAS

2012-         Member, Env-Rad-Net Management Committee

2011-         Steering Committee Member,  NERC Facility for Environmental Nanoscience Analysis & Characterisation

2006-2009 Conference Co-Chair, XIV International Conference on Small-Angle Scattering

2003-2007 Secretary, Joint RSC / SCI Colloid Group Committee

2002-2003 Ordinary Member, Joint RSC / SCI Colloid Group Committee

1998-2005 Ordinary Member, CCP13 Steering Committee

1996-2002 Ordinary Member, SCI Colloid & Surface Chemistry Group Committee

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