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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory


Dr David Williamson is a Principal Research Associate at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.   He gained his BSc in Physics from Loughborough University in 2002 during which time he also spent a Year in Industry performing digital signal processing research for Siemens AG in Nuremberg, Germany.   He obtained his PhD in Physics from the University of Cambridge in 2006.


My research interests are centred on the experimental study of the dynamic behaviour of materials and putting such knowledge to use in real-world applications:

The design, realisation and operation of instrumentation for measuring equations of state and the constitutive properties and relations of materials.  In particular under dynamic loading conditions, where Newtonian mechanics gives way to a wave mechanics.

Exploring conceptual frameworks to describe the measurements I make; such as Group Interaction Modelling for polymers, the Johnson-Kendall-Roberts approach to adhesive contact mechanics, and ‘hot-spot’ theory the initiation and growth of reaction in energetic materials.

Working closely with Government and Industry with on transferring knowledge from academia to government and industry (and vice-versa!):  instrumenting field-trials with advanced diagnostics, gathering materials data for the validation of materials models and simulation, and providing expert advice.


Key publications: 

(1)    Williamson DM et al. (2008). Temperature-time response of a pbx in compression (EDC37), Journal of Applied Physics D – Applied Physics, 41, 085404, DOI: 10.1088/0022-3727/41/8/085404

(2)    Hunter S, Sutinen T, Parker SF, Morrison CA, Williamson DM, Thompson S, Gould PJ, Pulham CR. Experimental and DFT-D studies of the molecular organic energetic material RDX (2013).  Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 117, 8062-71, DOI: 10.1021/jp4004664

(3)    Morley OJ, Williamson DM (2020). Pressure and temperature induced red-shift of the sodium D-line during HMX deflagration.  Communications Chemistry, 3, 13, DOI: 10.1038/s42004-020-0260-y

Principal Research Associate
Dr David M. Williamson

Contact Details

Room 427, Mott Building
Department of Physics
Cavendish Laboratory
JJ Thomson Avenue
+44 (0)1223 337209


Person keywords: 
Assembly and function of complex systems