Prof David Dunstan

Prof David Dunstan

Professor of Experimental Physics
School of Physics and Astronomy
Queen Mary, University of London
327 Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS

Telephone: 020 7882 3411
Room: G O Jones 124

David Dunstan contributes to solid-state physics both as an optical spectroscopist and as a theoretician. He has several inventions exploited commercially, and he designed and aligned the lighting for the Hope diamond in the Smithsonian Museum.

He published the definitive article on the mechanism of luminescence in amorphous silicon, the promising new material for optoelectronics.

At Surrey, with Alf Adams, he added high pressure to his techniques and pioneered the miniaturisation of the diamond-anvil high-pressure cell (*). High-pressure experiments have gathered much important data for optoelectronic technology, particularly using structures with built-in strain.

He has pioneered the use of strained semiconductor structures to achieve breakthroughs in the mechanical properties of solids. His current work is extending critical thickness theory to soft metals, demonstrating quantitatively that a minimum volume is required for plastic deformation, that reducing stressed volumes necessarily makes materials stronger, and that built-in strain modifies the properties profoundly.

Dunstan’s theoretical work has been based on the need to understand experimental results, but has also introduced new insights, e.g. his work on distant-pair recombination kinetics and the nearest-available-neighbour statistical distribution, and his simple scaling or geometrical argument (**) for critical thickness.

Click here for a full Publications List (PDF)

Copyright: Copyright (1988) American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. The following article appeared in Dunstan and Scherrer, Rev. Sci. Instrum. 59, 627 (1988) and may be found at

** Copyright: Copyright (1991) American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. The following article appeared in Dunstan et al., J. Appl. Phys. 70, 3038 (1991) and may be found at

Recent Publications:

D.J. Dunstan, T.T. Zhu, M. Hopkinson and A.J. Bushby, Mapping the initiation of plastic deformation in nanoindentation, arXiv:1011.0677v1 [cond-mat.mtrl-sci]

A.J. Bushby and D.J. Dunstan, 2010, Size effects in yield and plasticity under uniaxial and non-uniform loading: Experiment and theory, Philosophical Magazine, iFirst, 1-13.

D.J. Dunstan, B.Ehrler, R. Bossis, S. Joly, K.M.Y. P’ng and A.J. Bushby, 2009, Elastic limit and strain-hardening of thin wires in torsion, Physical Review Letters 103, 155501, pp 1-4.

P. Puech, E. Flahaut, A. Sapelkin, H. Hubel, D.J. Dunstan, G. Landa and W.S. Bacsa, 2006, Nanoscale pressure effects in individual double-wall carbon nanotubes, Physical Review B73, 233408.

K.M.Y. P’ng, A.J. Bushby and D.J. Dunstan, 2005, Strength of coherently strained layered superlattices, Philosophical Magazine 85, 4429.

P. Moreau, M. Raulic, K.M.Y. P’ng, G. Gannaway, P. Anderson, W.P. Gillin, A.J. Bushby and D.J. Dunstan, 2005, Measurement of the size effect in the yield strength of nickel foils, Philosophical Magazine Letters 85, 339.

Highlighted Past Papers

D.J. Dunstan and J.J. Davies, 1979, The behaviour of donor acceptor recombination emission in II-VI crystals subjected to magnetic resonance, Journal of Physics C12, 2927.

D.J. Dunstan, 1982, Kinetics of distant-pair recombination: I. Amorphous silicon luminescence at low temperature, Philosophical Magazine B46, 579.

D.J. Dunstan and F. Boulitrop, 1984, Photoluminescence in hydrogenated amorphous silicon, Physical Review B30, 5945.

D.J. Dunstan and W. Scherrer, 1988, A miniature cryogenic diamond anvil high pressure cell, Review of Scientific Instruments 59, 627.

J.D.Lambkin, D.J. Dunstan, K.P. Homewood, L.K. Howard and M.T. Emeny, 1990, Thermal quenching of the photoluminescence of InGaAs/GaAs and InGaAs/AlGaAs strained layer quantum wells, Applied Physics Letters 57, 1986.

R. Beanland, D.J. Dunstan and P.J. Goodhew, 1996, Plastic relaxation and relaxed buffer layers for semiconductor epitaxy, Advances in Physics 45, 87.

J.R Wood, M.D. Frogley, E.R. Meurs, A.D. Prins, T. Peijs, D.J. Dunstan and H.D. Wagner, 1999, Mechanical response of carbon nanotubes under molecular and mechanical pressures, Journal of Physical Chemistry B 103, 10388. Grants


Download the current version of CV (PDF)

Recent Grants

EPSRC EP/C518004/1, £656429
Deformation of Nanostructures and Small Volumes
A.J. Bushby and D.J. Dunstan, 5 years from March 2005

This is not an exhaustive list and I would be happy to discuss other project possibilities.


Selected publications

Validation of a phenomenological strain-gradient plasticity theory
Philosophical Magazine Letters: structure and properties of condensed matter, 27th July 2016.
DOI: 10.1080/09500839.2016.1215605

Grain size dependence of the strength of metals: The Hall-Petch effect does not scale as the inverse square root of grain size
Dunstan DJ, Bushby AJ
International Journal of Plasticity, Volume 53, page 56, 1st February 2014.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijplas.2013.07.004

Photoluminescence in hydrogenated amorphous silicon
Dunstan DJ, Boulitrop F
Physical Review B, Volume 30, issue 10, page 5945, 1st January 1984.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.30.5945

The Hall-Petch effect as a manifestation of the general size effect
Li Y, Bushby AJ, Dunstan DJ
Proc Royal Soc A, DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2015.0890