General Lab Information

Ian Robinson

Senior Physicist, X-Ray Scattering, Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department

Ian Robinson

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department
Bldg. 734, Room 212
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000

(631) 344-3819

I have been group leader of the X-ray Scattering group in the Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Division since 2016.  The group has a long tradition of excellence in the development of X-ray scattering methods, having pioneered in Magnetic X-ray scattering, Surface X-ray scattering, Inelastic X-ray scattering, Grazing-incidence X-ray scattering, Powder diffraction, Pair Distribution Functions and Resonant Inelastic X-ray scattering.  At the former National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), the group operated three beamlines, X22A, B and C, where a large number of users were hosted to use the X-ray scattering capabilities.  More recently, we added a new program to advance the science of Ultrafast X-ray scattering, using the X-ray Free-electron Laser facilities that are newly operating.

Expertise | Research | Education | Appointments | Publications | Highlights | Awards | Certifications | Video


X-ray Diffraction
Surface X-ray scattering
Coherent X-ray scattering
Bragg Coherent Diffraction Imaging
X-ray Ptychography

Research Activities

Phase transitions
Cuprate superconductor materials
Nanocrystal structure
Domain structure within crystals
Ultrafast excitation of materials


1973-76    Cambridge University, England.  M.A. Natural Sciences.  
1976-81    Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Ph.D. Biophysics. Advisor: Prof. Stephen Harrison.

Professional Appointments

1981-92    Member of technical staff, AT&T Bell Laboratories.
1990-91    Professeur (Chaire Municipale), Université de Grenoble
1992-2005    Professor of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
2006-16    Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University College, London
2006-pres    Professor, London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College, London
2006-10    Diamond Fellow, Diamond Light Source, Oxford
2011-16    Diamond Professorial Fellow, Research Complex at Harwell, Oxford
2011-19    Visiting Professor, Tongji University, Materials Science School, Shanghai

Selected Publications

  • Diao J, Cherukara M, Harder R, Huang X, Zhang F, Chen B, Ulvestad A, Song S, Zhu D, Keen D, Robinson I (2020) Unusual Breathing Behavior of Optically Excited Barium Titanate Nanocrystals. Crystals 10:365. doi: 10.3390/cryst10050365
  • Robinson I, Assefa TA, Cao Y, Gu G, Harder R, Maxey E, Dean MPM (2019) Domain Texture of the Orthorhombic Phase of La2−xBaxCuO4. Journal of Superconductivity and Novel Magnetism 33:99–106. doi: 10.1007/s10948-019-05252-z
  • Assefa TA, Cao Y, Banerjee S, Kim S, Kim D, Lee H, Kim S, Lee JH, Park S-Y, Eom I, Park J, Nam D, Kim S, Chun SH, Hyun H, Kim K sook, Juhas P, Bozin ES, Lu M, Song C, Kim H, Billinge SJL, Robinson IK (2020) Ultrafast x-ray diffraction study of melt-front dynamics in polycrystalline thin films. Science Advances 6:eaax2445. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax2445
  • Assefa TA, Cao Y, Diao J, Harder RJ, Cha W, Kisslinger K, Gu GD, Tranquada JM, Dean MPM, Robinson IK (2020) Scaling behavior of low-temperature orthorhombic domains in the prototypical high-temperature superconductor La1.875Ba0.125CuO4. Physical Review B. doi: 10.1103/physrevb.101.054104
  • Chen XM, Farmer B, Woods JS, Dhuey S, Hu W, Mazzoli C, Wilkins SB, Chopdekar RV, Scholl A, Robinson IK, De Long LE, Roy S, Hastings JT (2019) Spontaneous Magnetic Superdomain Wall Fluctuations in an Artificial Antiferromagnet. Physical Review Letters. doi: 10.1103/physrevlett.123.197202
  • Kim MG, Miao H, Gao B, Cheong S-W, Mazzoli C, Barbour A, Hu W, Wilkins SB, Robinson IK, Dean MPM, Kiryukhin V (2018) Imaging antiferromagnetic antiphase domain boundaries using magnetic Bragg diffraction phase contrast. Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07350-3
  • Estandarte AKC, Lynch CM, Monteforte M, Rawle J, Nicklin C, Robinson I (2018) Bragg coherent diffraction imaging of iron diffusion into gold nanocrystals. New Journal of Physics 20:113026. doi: 10.1088/1367-2630/aaebc1
  • Chen XM, Mazzoli C, Cao Y, Thampy V, Barbour AM, Hu W, Lu M, Assefa TA, Miao H, Fabbris G, Gu GD, Tranquada JM, Dean MPM, Wilkins SB, Robinson IK (2019) Charge density wave memory in a cuprate superconductor. Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09433-1
  • Robinson I (2017) Introducing the holo-TIE approach to cellular imaging. Acta Crystallographica Section A Foundations and Advances 73:281–281. doi: 10.1107/s2053273317009500
  • Huang X, Yan H, Ge M, Öztürk H, Nazaretski E, Robinson IK, Chu YS (2017) Artifact mitigation of ptychography integrated with on-the-fly scanning probe microscopy. Applied Physics Letters 111:023103. doi: 10.1063/1.4993744
  • Ulvestad A, Cherukara MJ, Harder R, Cha W, Robinson IK, Soog S, Nelson S, Zhu D, Stephenson GB, Heinonen O, Jokisaari A (2017) Bragg Coherent Diffractive Imaging of Zinc Oxide Acoustic Phonons at Picosecond Timescales. Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09999-0
  • Thampy V, Chen XM, Cao Y, Mazzoli C, Barbour AM, Hu W, Miao H, Fabbris G, Zhong RD, Gu GD, Tranquada JM, Robinson IK, Wilkins SB, Dean MPM (2017) Static charge-density-wave order in the superconducting state of La2−xBaxCuO4. Physical Review B. doi: 10.1103/physrevb.95.241111
  • Williams GJ, Chubar O, Robinson IK, Berman L, Chu YS (2017) Optical design and simulation of a new coherence beamline at NSLS-II. Advances in Computational Methods for X-Ray Optics IV. doi: 10.1117/12.2274387
  • Öztürk H, Huang X, Yan H, Robinson IK, Noyan IC, Chu YS (2017) Performance evaluation of Bragg coherent diffraction imaging. New Journal of Physics 19:103001. doi: 10.1088/1367-2630/aa83a9
  • Morrison GR, Zhang F, Gianoncelli A, Robinson IK (2018) X-ray ptychography using randomized zone plates. Optics Express 26:14915. doi: 10.1364/oe.26.014915
  • Hofmann F, Tarleton E, Harder RJ, Phillips NW, Ma P-W, Clark JN, Robinson IK, Abbey B, Liu W, Beck CE (2017) 3D lattice distortions and defect structures in ion-implanted nano-crystals. Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/srep45993
  • Diao J, Chen B, Luo Q, Lin W, Liu X, Shen J, Robinson I (2017) Nucleation of fractal nanocrystallites upon annealing of Fe-based metallic glass. Journal of Materials Research 32:1880–1887. doi: 10.1557/jmr.2017.79
  • Yusuf M, Zhang F, Chen B, Bhartiya A, Cunnea K, Wagner U, Cacho-Nerin F, Schwenke J, Robinson IK (2017) Procedures for cryogenic X-ray ptychographic imaging of biological samples. IUCrJ 4:147–151. doi: 10.1107/s2052252516020029
  • Robinson I, Yang Y, Zhang F, Lynch C, Yusuf M, Cloetens P (2016) Nuclear incorporation of iron during the eukaryotic cell cycle. Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 23:1490–1497. doi: 10.1107/s1600577516012807
  • Zhang F, Chen B, Morrison GR, Vila-Comamala J, Guizar-Sicairos M, Robinson IK (2016) Phase retrieval by coherent modulation imaging. Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13367
  • Monteforte M, Estandarte AK, Chen B, Harder R, Huang MH, Robinson IK (2016) Novel silica stabilization method for the analysis of fine nanocrystals using coherent X-ray diffraction imaging. Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 23:953–958. doi: 10.1107/s1600577516006408
  • Robinson I (2015) Coherent three-dimensional X-ray cryo-imaging. IUCrJ 2:477–478. doi: 10.1107/s2052252515015109
  • Ihli J, Clark JN, Côté AS, Kim Y-Y, Schenk AS, Kulak AN, Comyn TP, Chammas O, Harder RJ, Duffy DM, Robinson IK, Meldrum FC (2016) Strain-relief by single dislocation loops in calcite crystals grown on self-assembled monolayers. Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11878
  • Miao J, Ishikawa T, Robinson IK, Murnane MM (2015) Beyond crystallography: Diffractive imaging using coherent x-ray light sources. Science 348:530–535. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa1394
  • Ulvestad A, Clark JN, Harder R, Robinson IK, Shpyrko OG (2015) 3D Imaging of Twin Domain Defects in Gold Nanoparticles. Nano Letters 15:4066–4070. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b01104
  • Chen B, Yusuf M, Hashimoto T, Estandarte AK, Thompson G, Robinson I (2017) Three-dimensional positioning and structure of chromosomes in a human prophase nucleus. Science Advances 3:e1602231. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1602231
  • Nave C, Sutton G, Evans G, Owen R, Rau C, Robinson I, Stuart DI (2016) Imperfection and radiation damage in protein crystals studied with coherent radiation. Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 23:228–237. doi: 10.1107/s1600577515019700
  • Clark JN, Beitra L, Xiong G, Fritz DM, Lemke HT, Zhu D, Chollet M, Williams GJ, Messerschmidt MM, Abbey B, Harder RJ, Korsunsky AM, Wark JS, Reis DA, Robinson IK (2015) Imaging transient melting of a nanocrystal using an X-ray laser. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112:7444–7448. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1417678112
  • Clark JN, Ihli J, Schenk AS, Kim Y-Y, Kulak AN, Campbell JM, Nisbet G, Meldrum FC, Robinson IK (2015) Three-dimensional imaging of dislocation propagation during crystal growth and dissolution. Nature Materials 14:780–784. doi: 10.1038/nmat4320
  • Civita M, Diaz A, Bean RJ, Shabalin AG, Gorobtsov OY, Vartanyants IA, Robinson IK (2018) Phase modulation due to crystal diffraction by ptychographic imaging. Physical Review B. doi: 10.1103/physrevb.97.104101
  • Vittoria FA, Diemoz PC, Endrizzi M, De Caro L, Wagner UH, Rau C, Robinson IK, Olivo A (2014) Phase retrieval through a one–dimensional ptychographic engine. Optics Express 22:17281. doi: 10.1364/oe.22.017281
  • Clark JN, Huang X, Harder RJ, Robinson IK (2014) Dynamic Imaging Using Ptychography. Physical Review Letters. doi: 10.1103/physrevlett.112.113901
  • Huang X, Yan H, Harder R, Hwu Y, Robinson IK, Chu YS (2014) Optimization of overlap uniformness for ptychography. Optics Express 22:12634. doi: 10.1364/oe.22.012634
  • Huang X, Yan H, Nazaretski E, Conley R, Bouet N, Zhou J, Lauer K, Li L, Eom D, Legnini D, Harder R, Robinson IK, Chu YS (2013) 11 nm hard X-ray focus from a large-aperture multilayer Laue lens. Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/srep03562
  • Berenguer F, Bean RJ, Bozec L, Vila-Comamala J, Zhang F, Kewish CM, Bunk O, Rodenburg JM, Robinson IK (2014) Coherent X-Ray Imaging of Collagen Fibril Distributions within Intact Tendons. Biophysical Journal 106:459–466. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.12.016
  • Xiong G, Clark JN, Nicklin C, Rawle J, Robinson IK (2014) Atomic Diffusion within Individual Gold Nanocrystal. Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/srep06765
  • Badger J, Lal J, Harder R, Inouye H, Gleber SC, Vogt S, Robinson I, Makowski L (2013) Three-dimensional Imaging of Crystalline Inclusions Embedded in Intact Maize Stalks. Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/srep02843
  • Liang M, Harder R, Robinson IK (2014) Brownian motion studies of viscoelastic colloidal gels by rotational single particle tracking. IUCrJ 1:172–178. doi: 10.1107/s2052252514006022
  • Burdet N, Morrison GR, Huang X, Shi X, Clark JN, Zhang F, Civita M, Harder R, Robinson IK (2014) Observations of artefacts in the x-ray ptychography method. Optics Express 22:10294. doi: 10.1364/oe.22.010294
  • Diemoz PC, Endrizzi M, Zapata CE, Pešic ZD, Rau C, Bravin A, Robinson IK, Olivo A (2013) X-Ray Phase-Contrast Imaging with Nanoradian Angular Resolution. Physical Review Letters. doi: 10.1103/physrevlett.110.138105
  • Clark JN, Beitra L, Xiong G, Higginbotham A, Fritz DM, Lemke HT, Zhu D, Chollet M, Williams GJ, Messerschmidt M, Abbey B, Harder RJ, Korsunsky AM, Wark JS, Robinson IK (2013) Ultrafast Three-Dimensional Imaging of Lattice Dynamics in Individual Gold Nanocrystals. Science 341:56–59. doi: 10.1126/science.1236034
  • Yang W, Huang X, Harder R, Clark JN, Robinson IK, Mao H (2013) Coherent diffraction imaging of nanoscale strain evolution in a single crystal under high pressure. Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2661
  • Robinson I (2013) Nanoparticle Structure by Coherent X-ray Diffraction. Journal of the Physical Society of Japan 82:021012. doi: 10.7566/jpsj.82.021012
  • Cha W, Jeong NC, Song S, Park H, Thanh Pham TC, Harder R, Lim B, Xiong G, Ahn D, McNulty I, Kim J, Yoon KB, Robinson IK, Kim H (2013) Core–shell strain structure of zeolite microcrystals. Nature Materials 12:729–734. doi: 10.1038/nmat3698
  • Burdet N, Shi X, Clark JN, Huang X, Harder R, Robinson I (2017) Bragg projection ptychography on niobium phase domains. Physical Review B. doi: 10.1103/physrevb.96.014109
  • Robinson I, Schwenke J, Yusuf M, Estandarte A, Zhang F, Chen B, Clark J, Song C, Nam D, Joti Y, Tono K, Yabashi M, Ratnasari G, Kaneyoshi K, Takata H, Fukui K (2015) Towards single particle imaging of human chromosomes at SACLA. Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics 48:244007. doi: 10.1088/0953-4075/48/24/244007
  • Robinson I, Clark J, Harder R (2016) Materials science in the time domain using Bragg coherent diffraction imaging. Journal of Optics 18:054007. doi: 10.1088/2040-8978/18/5/054007
  • Robinson I, Robinson S (2015) My life and the world of crystals. Physica Scripta 90:048003. doi: 10.1088/0031-8949/90/4/048003

Research Highlights

I introduced the concept of Crystal Truncation Rods in 1986 to help explain the X-ray Scattering signatures of surfaces.  The intensity was found to switch smoothly from sharp Bragg peaks to rod-like streaks characteristic of surfaces.  One allowance was made for unavoidable surface roughness, the entire profile could be calculated between surface and bulk.  A full experimental program was built up at the X16A beamline of NSLS to systematically determine the structure of surfaces and explore their properties.

Later, I developed the method of Bragg Coherent Diffraction Imaging (BCDI) to exploit the newly-available coherence of the first undulator-based synchrotron X-ray sources for three-dimensional imaging of nanocrystals. Interference between the scattering from all extremities of a nano-sized crystal result in a detailed 3D pattern of fringes which can be inverted to images computationally. This method has opened up the exploration of nanocrystal structure to reveals rich details of internal strains, domains and faults in what were previously thought to be the most ideal materials. The experiment development of BCDI started at ESRF in 1995 and moved to the Advanced Photon Source in 2003, where I built a dedicated facility at sector 34-ID-C.  BCDI a central activity of the BNL X-ray scattering group and soon there will be a BCDI beamline at NSLS-II.

Awards & Recognition

Bell Labs distinguished member of technical staff, 1990
Fellow of the American Physical Society, 1995
ACA Warren Prize, 2000
Ted Maslen Award of the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand, 2003
Humboldt Foundation, Senior Research Fellowship, 2004-6
Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award, 2006-10
Diamond Fellowship, Diamond Light Source, UK, 2006-10
Professorial Fellowship, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, 2011-16
ICSOS Surface Structure Prize, 2011
Royal Swedish Academy’s Gregori Aminoff Prize 2015


Chair of Surface X ray and Neutron Scattering conference (SXNS 2), Bad Honef, 1991
Co Chair of X ray Physics Gordon Conference, Colby-Sawyer College, 1993
Chair of X ray Physics Gordon Conference, Colby-Sawyer College, 1995
National Academy of Sciences National Committee on Crystallography, 1999-2001
Chair, International Union of Crystallography Synchrotron Radiation Commission, 1999-2005
UNICAT (Argonne National Laboratory) Board of Governors 1997-2005
Surfaces and Interfaces Proposal Review Committee, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, 2001-2004
Experimental Facilities Advisory Committee, Spallation Neutron Source, 2002-2004
Science Advisory Committee, Diamond Light Source, 2004-2006
Science Advisory Committee, Soleil Light Source, 2006-11
National Synchrotron Light Source Experimental Facilities Advisory Committee, 2006-9
Science Advisory Committee, Max-IV Synchrotron, Lund, Sweden, 2010-13
Science Advisory Committee, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, 2012-15
Science Advisory Committee, Linac Coherent Light Source, Stanford, 2012-15 (Chair 13-15)
Chair, Science Advisory Committee, ALBA synchrotron, Barcelona, Spain, 2014-19
Proposal Review Panel, MID, European X-ray Free-Electron Laser, Hamburg, 2015-pres
Chair, Science Advisory Committee, Linac Coherent Light Source, Stanford, 2013-15
Chair, Science Advisory Committee, European X-ray Free-Electron Laser, Hamburg, 2014-pres
Chair, Royal Society Conference “Real and reciprocal space X-ray imaging”, 2013
Organiser of UK-Japan “Chromosome Imaging Workshop”, 2014, 2015
Chair, “Size-Strain VII” conference, Oxford, 2015
Editorial Board, IUCrJ, International Union of Crystallography, 2015-pres
Chair, Beamline Advisory Team, Bragg Coherent Diffractive Imaging, NSLS-II, 2017-pres
Chair, “Coherence 2018” conference, Port Jefferson, New York, 2018

Featured Video

  • The Original NSLS CTR Beamline: X16A

    July 26, 2016

    14th International Conference on Surface X-ray and Neutron Scattering (SXNS14) - Wednesday, July 13, 2016 Special Talk: 30 Years of Surface X-ray Scattering at NSLS Ian K. Robinson Brookhaven National Laboratory/London Center for Nanotechnology

Historic account of NSLS’s X-ray Scattering activity at the SXNS-14 conference (June 2016)

Ian Robinson

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department
Bldg. 734, Room 212
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000

(631) 344-3819

Ian's Links