Portrait of Prof John Colligon Prof John Colligon

j.colligon@hud.ac.uk | 01484 472184



John Colligon joined the University as Research Professor on 1st September 2014. 

After his PhD at the University of Liverpool he took up an appointment as Research Fellow in the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough from 1962-1964 and worked in their Materials Department. In 1964 he was appointed as a Senior Scientific Officer at RAE.  In 1968 he accepted an offer to join the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Salford.  In 1971 he became a Senior Lecturer and, from 1993, a Professorial Fellow.  He joined Manchester Metropolitan University in 1997 as a Research Professor before taking up his present appointment at the University of Huddersfield.

In 1988-9 he was awarded a Royal Society Industrial Fellowship and worked with VG Ionex, based in Burgess Hill, Sussex.

Since 2001 he has also been an Honorary Visiting Scientist with the ASTec Vacuum Science Group of STFC Daresbury Laboratory

During his university years he has attracted considerable research funding from research organisations and industry.  He has supervised over 20 Masters and PhD students, published over 120 papers in refereed journals and presented a similar number of papers at scientific conferences.  The latter include several Invited and Plenary Lectures. 

His main research interests are in surface coatings, materials characterisation and ion-surface interactions.

Research and Scholarship

Research interests:

  • Ion-surface interactions
  • Development of novel coatings for extreme environments
  • Surface modification
  • Thin film coatings

Recent studies
Surface modification of materials gives a design engineer considerable flexibility as a material may be chosen for its best mechanical bulk properties whilst, at the same time it is adapted to have improved surface characteristics such as corrosion-resistance and low friction.  The challenges are to produce a well-bonded surface layer and also to discover and develop novel coating materials.  Recent EPSRC-funded studies of nanocomposite coatings have shown that exceptionally hard layers can be produced using the correct coating deposition parameters.   MAX phase coatings, which are layered structures capable of withstanding high temperatures and appear to be radiation-resistant have also been produced. Often industrial requirements are not for a hard coatings but for a coating which is durable and survives operation in extreme conditions.  Again the deposition conditions are critical.  Impurities in the coating can completely change its properties and lead to unreliability in production so coatings have to be deposited in a clean environment; normally in a vacuum chamber.

A major controlling factor in the formation of coatings is the energy of the depositing species.  Special coating equipment has therefore been developed which provides deposition of coating material, in a process known as “sputtering” with simultaneous ion bombardment to provide a controllable additional energy to the deposition process.  Coatings produced in this way are found to be denser and can have special composition, micro- and nano-structural properties that cannot be attained by other methods.

Having produced these coatings there is a need to analyze their micro-structure, composition and performance.  Of particular interest is their mechanical properties, not only at ambient temperature, but also, under conditions of operation which is often at high temperature.

The above outlines the challenges and aims of the Surface Coatings and Characterisation Group which has attracted considerable external funding over many years.  We are well known by many UK and European research groups and industry and have close links with these.  We welcome new collaborations.  Please contact Professor John Colligon for further details.

Plenary lectures:

  1. “Energy-assisted coatings and their applications”
    Asia-Pacific Interfinish Conference 2010 incorporating 10th International Conference on Applied Surface Engineering and 5th International Conference on Surface and Interface Science and Engineering, Singapore 18-22 October 2010
  2. “MAX phase coatings: production, properties and applications”
    21st International Conference on Ion-Surface Interactions, Jaroslavl, 22 – 26 August 2013
  3. “Energy-Assisted Processing: techniques, effects and applications”
    Presented at the 2014 Reactive Sputter Deposition Conference, Ghent, 11-12 December 2014

 Invited talks (see full list of presentations).  Most recent:

  1. Colligon, J.S. and Vishnyakov V.M.
    “High temperature MAX-Phase coatings”.
    Invited talk presented at the 20th International Conference on Ion Surface Interactions, Zvenigorod, Russia, 25 -29 August 2011
  2. Colligon, J.S. and Vishnyakov
    Invited lecture on “MAX Phase and Superhard Coatings: formation, properties and applications”, The Leibnitz Institute, Leipzig, 25 June 2013
  3. Colligon, J.S. Invited lecture on “Ion-assisted Deposition” at the 537th Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Seminar in Dresden 26 – 28 June 2013

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Colligon, J. and Vishnyakov, V. (2015) ‘Applications of Energy-Assistance to the formation of novel surface coatingsInnovation into Success (17), pp. 65-68.

Vishnyakov, V., Crisan, O., Dobrosz, P. and Colligon, J. (2014) ‘Ion sputter-deposition and in-air crystallisation of Cr2AlC filmsVacuum , 100, pp. 61-65. ISSN 0042-207X

Vishnyakov, V., Lu, J., Eklund, P., Hultman, L. and Colligon, J. (2013) ‘Ti3SiC2-formation during Ti–C–Si multilayer deposition by magnetron sputtering at 650 °CVacuum , 93, pp. 56-59. ISSN 0042-207X

Vishnyakov, V., Ehiasarian, A., Vishnyakov, V., Hovsepian, P. and Colligon, J. (2011) ‘Amorphous Boron containing silicon carbo-nitrides created by ion sputteringSurface and Coatings Technology , 206 (1), pp. 149-154. ISSN 0257-8972

Colligon, J., Vishnyakov, V., Valizadeh, R., Donnelly, S. and Kumashiro, S. (2005) ‘Study of nanocrystalline TiN/Si3N4 thin films deposited using a dual ion beam methodThin Solid Films , 485 (1-2), pp. 148-154. ISSN 0040-6090

Valizadeh, R., Colligon, J., Donnelly, S., Faunce, C., Park, D. and Kheyrandish, H. (1994) ‘Composition and Structure of Zirconium Nitride Films Produced by Ion Assisted DepositionMRS Proceedings , 354. ISSN 1946-4274


Professor Colligon co-authored the first major textbook in the field of ion-surface studies.  The book, “Ion Bombardment of Solids” was published in 1968 by (Heineman Educational Books Ltd, London. He also contributed  a chapter  on “Physical Vapour Deposition” in the textbook “Non-Equilibrium Processing of Materials” (Pergamon, Amsterdam 1999) edited by C.Suryanarayana)

John is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (1981) and Chartered Engineer (1982), also a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (1979), a Royal Society Industrial Fellow with Vacuum Generators (1988-9) and Chartered Physicist.  He was made a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society in 1998 in recognition of his “pioneering studies on energy-assisted deposition of thin films and controlled surface modification by dynamic recoil mixing for applications to novel materials”.

In 2013 he received the Institute of Physics “Phillips Award” for distinguished service to IOP which included chairing several committees, serving as a member of IOP Council from October 2006 to September 2009 and Chairing the IOP Audit and Risk Committee from 2006 to 2010

In 2015 John was awarded the British Vacuum Council Senior Prize for “distinguished research in ion-surface interactions and its application to coatings and novel materials”, with which is associated the John Yarwood Memorial Medal. The prize is awarded for distinguished contributions to British scientific research in the fields of vacuum science, surface science, thin films or any related topic in which vacuum science and engineering play an important role. The John Yarwood Memorial Medal was established to honour the memory of Professor John Yarwood (an international figure in the field of vacuum physics and a founder member of the British Vacuum Council).

He has been Editor of the Elsevier Journal “Vacuum” from 1981- 2012 and is now Special Issues Editor for this journal.

John was Secretary General of the International Union for Vacuum Science, Technique and Applications (IUVSTA), which represents vacuum interests of over 30 national vacuum societies, for three triennia from 1989 to 1998.  From 2007 – 2010 he was Chair of the Thin Film Division of IUVSTA.  He continues to play an active role as its past-chair.  He has organised 3 specialist IUVSTA Workshops and is Founder and Series Chair of the IUVSTA European Vacuum Conference series.

John has undertaken two plenary lectures, the first at the International Conference on “Reactive Sputter Etching”, Ghent, Belgium, December 2014 and the second at the European Vacuum Conference, Slovenia, June 2016.

Outside work John is interested in languages and has a reasonable command of Russian.  He plays tennis in the local Manchester league and is keen on walking.  He is Chair of Directors of the Management company of the apartments where he now lives.

Research Degree Supervision

Current opportunities

  • Please contact this member of staff to discuss possible opportunities.

Enterprise Activities

  • Member of IET Tribology Committee
  • Member of IOP Groups Committee

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Member of Computing and Engineering Research and Enterprise committee