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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory


Dr Chris Braithwaite is a Senior Research Associate at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He is also responsible for innovations in the teaching of practical physics within the Cavendish. Chris has a BA/MSci from Cambridge (2004) and also obtained a PhD in Physics from Cambridge in 2009. Since then he has been employed in various research and academic positions in the Cavendish.


My research interests are in the mechanical and dynamic behaviour of materials and understanding how the microstructure and mesostructured of materials is manifested at larger macroscopic length-scales. This is experimental in nature and therefore a portion of the research is also involved in the design of experiments and diagnostics, specifically with the aim of achieving a high spatial and temporal resolution simultaneously. The applied nature of some of the research that I conduct and direct lends itself to collaborations with industry and government, and this is an area in which I have significant experience. Specific areas of interest include:

Granular materials, specifically investigating the properties under very high rate and high pressure loading. Very subtle alterations to the structure can produce significant variations in macroscopic properties.

Geological materials. The complexity and variety of these materials, which are found naturally and relied on for a variety of engineering tasks, leads to much of their material response being averaged as a continuum. Understanding the extent to which this is an appropriate description relies on a deeper understanding of the interactions between mineral types, bonding, fracture and grain size.

Novel material interactions such as intermetallic reactions. There is significant potential industrial impact in this areas, (see for example NanoFoil) however currently a fundamental understanding of the underlying physics is lacking.


Key publications: 

(1)    Braithwaite, C. H., Perry, J. I., Taylor, N. E., & Jardine, A. P. (2013). Behaviour of sand during release from a shocked state. Applied Physics Letters, 103(15). doi:10.1063/1.4824764

(2)    Andrew M. Marquez, Zezhou Li, Christopher H. Braithwaite, et al., Fragmentation and mechanical performance of tailored nickel-aluminum laminate compacts, Materials Science and Engineering: A,Vol 727 (2018),

(3)    Zhang, Q. B., Braithwaite, C. H., Zhao J., Hugoniot equation of state of rock materials under shock compression, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2017 375 20160169;

Teaching Laboratories Innovator
Senior Research Associate
Dr Chris  Braithwaite

Contact Details

Room 318a, Mott Building
Department of Physics
Cavendish Laboratory
JJ Thomson Avenue
01223 337208


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