John White graduated from the University of Sydney with a BSc (hons) and received his MSc and PhD at Oxford University. He has since held positions at Institut Laue langevin, Grenoble (1975-1980) and Oxford University (1963-1985) before being appointed Professor at the Research School of Chemistry. Professor John White is also president of the Asia Oceania Neutron Scattering Association (AONSA).
He has been awarded fellowships of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1982), the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (1986), the Australian Institute of Physics (1986), the Royal Society of London (1993) and the Australian Academy of Sciences (1991). He has received the H. G. Smith Medal (1997), the Craig Medal (2005) and the Leighton Medal (2005).
Neutron and X-ray scattering methods, developed by this research group, are used to study the structure and dynamics on nanometre and picosecond space/time scales. Adsorption, self-assembly at interfaces, polymers, the imitation of biomineralisation phenomena using “template” molecules and, most recently, the structure and denaturation of proteins at interfaces are current areas of interest.
The insights gained are used to guide chemical synthesis in making new materials with interesting physicochemical properties. Recent highlights include the production of robust titanium oxide films for water splitting and bio-degradation, and observation of isotope effects in hydrogen formation. The modelling of protein orientation at the air-water interface and interfacial protein denaturation thermodynamics as well as the first experiments showing the interfacial interaction of different milk proteins have succeeded.
For emulsions, highlights are the design of co-surfactants which greatly change high internal phase emulsion properties, the first in situ experiments showing the effects of shear and the first synchrotron anomalous scattering experiments on surfactant-less emulsions.