David Christopher Cox

A brief history of Cox

Born in the
Black Country in the West Midlands, UK in 1965.

Following a pretty undistinguished time at School, I went into the world of work at 16 where I undertook an old fashioned apprenticeship in a precision engineering workshop in the Black Country. After 11 years of machining, welding and fabrication I decided it wasn’t enough and went to what was then Wolverhampton Poly to do a degree in manufacturing and materials engineering. After four years of this I left with a 2:1 and went to Birmingham University to undertake a masters degree in materials science and engineering. A year later having finished this course successfully, I went to Cambridge University’s dept of Materials Science and Metallurgy to study for a PhD. Working in the Rolls Royce University Technology Centre, I worked on single crystal superalloys, also doing a three month stint at the National Physical Laboratory in the summer of 1998. During this period I developed my love of microscopy, and completed my PhD in the three years as planned.

Having to find a job again I went to the University of Surrey as a post-doc microscopist, initially in the School of Electronic Engineering, and lately in the Advanced Technology Institute, as a research fellow. During the last seven years I have been seconded to the National Physical Laboratory as strategic research fellow where I work in the Quantum Detection group. My main role in the group is as a fabricator of devices for other members of the group to then measure. Somewhat ironically I now spend most of my time machining, welding and fabricating things at the micro and nano scale. So after all these years of academic study I am back doing the same thing I did when I left school. The main difference now is that I don’t get daily cuts and burns on my fingers, and the things I make now would fit into the tolerances I used to have to work to.

I guess I was just born to make stuff.

Oct 1997-Sept 2000
PhD, Cambridge University, UK. Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Nickel-Base Alloys, Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, University of Cambridge and Rolls-Royce plc.
Characterisation of Single Crystal Superalloy Microstructural Evolution.
Part of the Department of Trade and Industry Foresight Projects.
Funding EPSRC, plus annual Rolls-Royce merit award.

Oct 1996-Sept 1997

MPhil, Birmingham University, UK. Department of Physics and Space Research.
Study of Selective Oxide Formation on Nuclear Reactor Fuel Pin Steels.
Funding EPSRC, plus Nuclear Electric award.

Sept 1992-Jun 1996

BEng Hons, 2:1 Manufacturing Engineering and Materials Technology.
Wolverhampton University (formerly Polytechnic), UK. Department of Engineering.

Secondary School in the Black Country.
Nothing achieved of any significance.

Key Skills

Materials characterisation, metrology, specimen preparation techniques, electron, scanning probe and optical microscopy, mechanical testing. Practical and manual skills including fabrication, machining and metalwork. Focused ion beam, nanomanipulation and nanofabrication, cleanroom skills, electron beam lithography.

Current Research

Development of techniques for the manufacture of devices for quantum and nano metrology. Using a combination of optical and electron beam lithography to produce basic devices, they are then modified using focused ion beam, and manipulation techniques, to incorporate nanostructures such as wires, beads and particles into them. These devices are currently used for nanomechanical resonators, quantum electrical and thermal transport measurement, nanomagnetism and superconducting applications.

Outside of work

My main interests outside of work is playing finger style and slide blues guitar, badly, and improving very slowly at this. I also have started to get into luthiery and am currently working on my second guitar (a steel string parlor) which is coming along nicely. I am also into primitive string instruments and make cigar box guitars from time to time, and have built up quite a collection of these by the main producers of such instruments. I have also dabbled in primitive photography and made pin-hole cameras. I also love to cook.