Edinburgh Research Explorer

Graeme Ackland

Chair in Computer Simulation

Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5299

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Theory of hydrogen at extreme conditions; Phase stability through free energy calculations; First principles theory of phase transitions at high pressure; Empirical potential modelling of metal ceramic interfaces

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Jesus College, Oxford
Non-pairwise potentails and defect modelling for transition metals

Professional Qualifications

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, FRSE
Fellow of the Institute of Physics, FInst


Professor of computer simulation, University of Edinburgh 2003-date

Fulbright Distinguished fellow, Princeton and Rutgers 2001-2

Reader, Universtity of Edinburgh 1999-

Lecturer, University of Edinburgh 1990-

Postdoc, University of Pennsylvania, 1988-89

PhD student (theoretical physics) University of Oxford 1984-87

Undergraduate student (physics) University of Oxford 1982-84

Undergraduate student (engineering) University of Oxford 1981-82


Current Research Interests

Metallic Hydrogen

High pressure crystal structures

Materials, especially alloy mechanical behaviours

Radiation Damage

Phase transitions, thermodynamics calculations

Evolutionary game theory

Neolithic transition in Europe


Theoretical physics is the mainstream course at UoE for students who are more interested in theoratical aspects of physics than experimental one.  It essentially offers the option of taking more formal and mathematical courses, at the expense of laboratory work.

I teach the Junior Honours course in thermodynamics, currently packaged as 50% of the "Thermal Physics" module.  This is the introductory level course in the subject, taking students from heat capacity, bulk modulus to entropy and phase transitions.

I run a very wide range of Intermediate Masters and Senior Honours projects, all of which are unique, feature an as-yet-unsolved physics problem and (therefore) run once only if successful.  Often these lead to refereed journal publications for the student, the most recent such examples being on radiation-resitant steel and on thermodynamics of the sudoku puzzle.

I contribute an annual poultry-related question to physics skills, and have a page of amusing/difficult problems



Research Interests

Computer simulation and Theoretical Physics applied to many interacting objects.

Molecular dynamics of metals.

Interatomic force model for use in molecular dynamics

Density Functional Theory calculations in materials and planetary science, in particular under high pressure.

Simulations of radiation damage in fusion and fission reactors

Theoretical Ecology - foodwebs and daisyworlds. 

Theoretical prehistoric sociology: development/stability of society, cultural hitchhiking, neolithic transition

Algorithmic non-equilibrium economics - poverty, imperfect information and spatial variation. 

Evolutionary Game Theory, evolution of trust in repeated games.

My research in a nutshell

Would not fit.

Research Groups




Administrative Roles


Chairman of Institute of Physics, Theory of Condensed Matter group (2017-21)

School Ethics Officer



Head of ICMCS, Director of Research, Director of Publicity and Recruitment, Coordinator of Theoretical Physics, Compuational Physics, Chemical Physics, computer Science and Physics programmes

Research students

Stewart Clark,Michele Warren,Alastair Kelsey,Bijaya Karki,  Udomsilp Pinsook, Damian Swift,  Colin Adam, Elizabeth King, Stewart Reed, Iain McLeod,  Murshed Siddick,  Lawrence Mitchell, Tom Adam, Bengt Tegner (2014), Con Healy (2014),  Graham Galloway (2014), Linggang Zhu (2015), Rachel Husband (2015), Flaviu Ciprogan (2017), Ioan Magdau (2017)

Iain Bethune

Christian Loach

Joshua Hellier

Sam Ramsey

Peter Cooke

Marcin Kirsz

Sebastiaan van der Bund




My research in a nutshell


Research outputs

  1. Covid-19: Modelling the pandemic

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

  2. The effect of school closures on COVID mortality: old and new predictions

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Understanding high pressure hydrogen with a hierarchical machine-learned potential

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

View all (253) »

Research activities & awards

  1. MRS

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  2. Joint 25th Airapt- 53rd EHPRG meeting

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  3. Philosophical magazine (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

View all (3) »

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