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Dr Mark E Light PhD, BSc, FRSC, MMS, FHEA

Head of Materials X-ray Diffraction Facility

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Dr Mark Light is an X-ray diffraction and scattering specialist, with 20+ years’ experience in materials characterisation.

The ability to elucidate complex atomic-scale structures through their interactions with X-rays is truly incredible.

Mark received a BSc in 1994 from the University of Greenwich (geochemistry) and a PhD in 1997 from Cardiff University (crystallography). In 1998 he moved to Southampton to take up a postdoc position working with the EPSRC National Crystallography Service. He was appointed to his current post of Head of the Materials X-ray Diffraction Facility in 2005 and made senior lecturer in 2017.

He is the author or co-author of over 440 peer reviewed publications and has contributed over 1000 structures to CCDC, ranking him within the top 100 worldwide. Mark is a member of the Transition Metal Chemistry editorial board and Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS).

Mark is involved in many aspects of structural characterisation across Chemistry and the wider faculty. His own special interests are in determining local structure from total scattering and associated techniques.


PhD, Cardiff University, 1997

BSc, University of Greenwich, 1994

PGCert, University of Southampton, 2009

Appointments held:

Postdoctoral research fellow, EPSRC National Crystallography Service, University of Southampton, 1998-2005.

Experimental officer, University of Southampton, 2005-2017.

Senior Lecturer, University of Southampton, 2017-present. 

Research interests

Mark’s research interests encompass the structural characterisation of crystalline materials and disordered systems using X-ray diffraction and X-ray scattering. This allows fundamental structure-property relationships to be drawn, enabling the optimisation of real-world devices and processes.

As head of the materials diffraction facility he is responsible for a wide range of scattering techniques and apply these to a diverse set of physical and chemical situations: singe crystal diffraction for confirming the first organic molecule entrapped in C60, powder diffraction for following reversible phase transitions in green butanol separation, total scattering for modelling the structure of aqueous metal salts, X-ray reflectivity for optimising the layer structure of resistive random access memory devices and small and wide angle scattering for determining the nature of hierarchical catalysts.

Most of his work is conducted within the Southampton laboratories, but he also takes advantage of the UK national facilities at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory including the Diamond synchrotron and ISIS neutron source. These have recently allowed time resolved pair distribution function analysis of catalyst formation and isotopic substitution total scattering measurements of aqueous magnesium sulfate.

Research group

Characterisation and Analytics

Affiliate research groups

Functional Inorganic, Materials and Supramolecular Chemistry, Non-crystalline diffraction - Elucidating local structure of functional materials

Research project(s)


Mark Light: Non-crystalline diffraction - Elucidating local structure of functional materials.

Structure of aqueous metal salts in solution

Using total X-ray scattering and Empirical Potential Structure Refinement (EPSR) to study the structural associations of ionic species in solution.

PhD supervision - Primary

  • Dan Irving (started 27/09/2018)

PhD supervision – Secondary

  • Josha Le Brocq (started 27/09/2018)
  • Evangeline McShane (started 06/01/2020)
  • Panashe Mhembere (started 28/09/2017)
  • Ahmed Mohamed (started 24/09/2020
  • Alice Oakley (started 27/09/2018)
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Key Publications

    Module co-ordinator: CHEM6153/8041 X-Ray Diffraction as a Characterisation Method

    Supervisor: CHEM3050 Chemistry Literature Project

    Supervisor: CHEM6102 Chemistry Placement

    Supervisor: CHEM3012 Chemistry Research Project

    Supervisor: CHEM6090 Chemistry Advanced Research Project

    Supervisor: CHEM6129 Group Analytical Project

    Tutor: CHEM6133 Scientific writing and presentation skills for Chemistry MSc

    Supervisor: CHEM6142 Chemistry MSc Advanced Research Project

    Dr Mark E Light
    Chemistry University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

    Room Number : 30/1093

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