Professor John L Provis

Professor John L Provis

BE(Hons), BSc, PhD, CEng, MIChemE
Professor of Cement Materials Science and Engineering

Address: Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Sir Robert Hadfield Building, Mappin Street, Sheffield, S1 3JD

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 5490
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 5943

John joined the University of Sheffield in 2012 with a Chair in Cement Materials Science and Engineering. He completed a combined BE(Hons)/BSc in Chemical Engineering and Applied Mathematics at the University of Melbourne, Australia, in 2002, followed by a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Melbourne in 2006. In 2006 he was appointed research fellow, then to senior research fellow, then manager (2006 - 2008) and leader (2009 - 2012) of the Geopolymer and Minerals Processing Group. He is also holder of APD and DORA fellowships, in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

John was awarded the 2013 RILEM Robert L’Hermite Medal “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the research and development of geopolymers and other construction materials”, and was awarded an honorary doctorate (Dr.h.c.) by Hasselt University, Belgium, in 2015 to recognise his leadership in the development of geopolymers and other novel cementitious materials. He holds funding from the European Research Council (grant: 'GeopolyConc'), as well as UK Research Councils, industry, and international sources. He is Chair of RILEM Technical Committee 247-DTA, a Voting Member of committees of ASTM and ACI, Associate Editor of the leading journals Cement and Concrete Research and Materials and Structures, and Speciality Chief Editor for the Structural Materials section of Frontiers in Materials.

Research interests

John's research centres on the development, characterisation and exploitation of advanced and non-traditional cement and concrete technology. Many projects involve alkali-activated and geopolymer binders, for use in construction, infrastructure and waste immobilisation applications. The range of topics covered include:

Construction materials

  1. Geopolymers – chemical and engineering properties
  2. Chemistry of alkali aluminosilicate gels
  3. Other alkali-activated and Portland cement-hybrid concrete systems
  4. Rheology control
  5. Waste valorisation by alkali-activation

Waste immobilisation in cementitious materials

  1. Novel cementing binders for nuclear and radioactive wastes: alkali and alkali-earth silicates, aluminates and sulfoaluminates
  2. Immobilisation of heavy metals
  3. Mass transport properties of cemented wasteforms

Testing of cementitious materials

  1. Synchrotron-based and neutron-based methods for analysis of cements
  2. Advanced spectroscopic and microscopic techniques
  3. Durability testing methodologies for novel cements
  4. Validation of tests and performance prediction
  5. Performance-based standardisation

Silica chemistry in complex aqueous environments

  1. Speciation and electrolyte solution chemistry
  2. Dissolution mechanisms of silicate minerals and glasses

Research group


  • Dr Maria Criado
  • Dr Zhijun Tan

Research Technician

  • Dr Oday Hussein

PhD students

  • Sam Walling
  • Ross Peel
  • Ashleigh Thompson
  • Brant Walkley (at University of Melbourne, Australia)
  • Becky Sanderson
  • Xinyuan Ke
  • James Vigor

  • Andrew MacArthur
  • Dale Prentice
  • Shishir Mundra
  • Colleen Mann
  • Rita Vasconcelos
  • Antonia Yorkshire
  • Sarah Kearney

Key projects and research impacts

  • Durability analysis and standardisation of alkali-activated cements and concretes, including leadership of RILEM TC 247-DTA
  • Local structural analysis of aluminosilicates via advanced beamline techniques, leading to the first detailed nanoscale understanding of the chemistry of geopolymer binders, and to the availability of novel tools and methodologies for nanostructural analysis
  • Development and characterisation of novel cements and concretes, including collaboration with leading producers of geopolymer cement and concrete nationally and internationally

Professional activities and recognition

  • Senior Member of RILEM

    1. Secretary, Technical Committee 224-AAM (2009-2012)
    2. Member, Technical Committee 238-SCM (2011-)
    3. Chair, Technical Committee 247-DTA (2012-)

  • Member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers; Chartered Engineer
  • Member of the American Ceramic Society
  • Associate Editor of Cement and Concrete Research
  • Associate Editor of Materials & Structures
  • Editorial Board of Journal of Sustainable Cement-Based Materials
  • Editorial Board of ISRN Materials Science
  • RILEM Robert L’Hermite Medal 2013 – awarded annually to the best researcher under 40 years of age, in the areas of construction materials, systems and structures
  • Australian Research Council DORA Award, 2012
  • Brian Robinson Fellowship (Banksia Foundation, Australia), 2009
  • Australian Research Council APD fellowship, 2008-2011
  • Fulbright Scholar to the USA, 2004-5
  • Peer Review Advisory Board, Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Reviewer for more than 70 international journals, and grant funding agencies in more than 10 nations

Key publications


  • Provis, J.L.; van Deventer, J.S.J. (Editors), Alkali-Activated Materials: State-of-the-Art Report, RILEM TC 224-AAM. Springer/RILEM, Dordrecht, 2014
  • Provis, J.L.; van Deventer, J.S.J. (Editors), Geopolymers: Structure, Processing, Properties and Industrial Applications, Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, UK, 2009.

Journal articles

  • Myers, R.J.; L'Hôpital, E.; Provis, J.L.; Lothenbach, B. "Composition-solubility-structure relationships in calcium (alkali) aluminosilicate hydrate (C-(N,K-)A-S-H)," Dalton Transactions, 2015, 44(30): 13530-13544.
  • Provis, J.L.; Palomo, A.; Shi, C. "Advances in understanding alkali-activated materials," Cement and Concrete Research, 2015, 78A: 110-125.
  • Walling, S.A.; Kinoshita, H.; Bernal, S.A.; Collier, N.C.; Provis, J.L. "Structure and properties of binder gels formed in the system Mg(OH)2-SiO2-H2O for immobilisation of Magnox sludge," Dalton Transactions, 2015, 44(17): 8126-8137.
  • Mobasher, N.; Bernal, S.A.; Kinoshita, H.; Sharrad, C.A.; Provis, J.L. "Gamma irradiation resistance of an early age slag-blended cement matrix for nuclear waste encapsulation," Journal of Materials Research, 2015, 30:163-1571.
  • Van Deventer, J.S.J.; San Nicolas, R.; Ismail, I.; Bernal, S.A.; Brice, D.G.; Provis, J.L. “Microstructure and durability of alkali-activated materials as key parameters for standardisation,” Journal of Sustainable Cement-Based Materials, 2015, 4(2):116-128.
  • Myers, R.J.; Bernal, S.A.; Provis, J.L. "A thermodynamic model for C-(N-)A-S-H gel: CNASH_ss. Derivation and validation," Cement and Concrete Research, 2014, 66: 27-47.
  • Bernal, S.A.; Provis, J.L. "Durability of alkali-activated materials: progress and perspectives," Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 2014, 97(4): 997-1008.
  • Provis, J.L.; Bernal, S.A. "Geopolymers and related alkali-activated materials," Annual Review of Materials Research, 2014, 44: 299-327.
  • Bernal, S.A.; San Nicolas, R.; Provis, J.L.; Mejía de Gutierrez, R.; van Deventer, J.S.J. “Natural carbonation of aged alkali-activated slag concretes,” Materials and Structures, 2014, 47(4): 693-707.
  • Kashani, A.; Provis, J.L.; Xu, J.; Kilcullen, A.R.; Qiao, G.G.; van Deventer, J.S.J. “Effect of molecular architecture of polycarboxylate ethers on plasticizing performance in alkali activated slag paste,” Journal of Materials Science, 2014, 42, 2761-2772.
  • Bernal, S.A.; San Nicolas, R.; Myers, R.J.; Mejía de Gutiérrez, R.; Puertas, F.; van Deventer, J.S.J.; Provis, J.L. "MgO content of slag controls phase evolution and structural changes induced by accelerated carbonation in alkali-activated binders," Cement and Concrete Research, 2014, 57, 33-43.
  • Provis, J.L. “Geopolymers and other alkali activated materials - Why, how, and what?” Materials and Structures, 2014, 47(1), 11-25.
  • Bernal, S.A.; Provis, J.L.; Walkley, B.; San Nicolas, R.; Gehman, J.D.; Brice, D.G.; Kilcullen, A.R.; Duxson, P.; Van Deventer, J.S.J. “Gel nanostructure in alkali-activated binders based on slag and fly ash, and effects of accelerated carbonation,” Cement and Concrete Research, 2013, 53, 127-144.
  • White, C.E.; Provis, J.L.; Bloomer, B.; Henson, N.J.; Page, K. “In situ X-ray pair distribution function analysis of geopolymer gel nanostructure formation kinetics,” Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2013, 15(22), 8573-8582.
  • Provis, J.L.; Myers, R.J.; White, C.E.; Rose, V.; van Deventer, J.S.J. "X-ray microtomography shows pore structure and tortuosity in alkali-activated binders," Cement and Concrete Research, 2012, 42(6), 855-864.
  • Bernal, S.A.; Mejía de Gutiérrez, R.; Provis, J.L. “Engineering and durability properties of concretes based on alkali-activated granulated blast furnace slag/metakaolin blends,” Construction & Building Materials, 2012, 33, 99-108.
  • van Deventer, J.S.J.; Provis, J.L.; Duxson, P. "Technical and commercial progress in the adoption of geopolymer cement," Minerals Engineering, 2012, 29, 89-104.
  • White, C.E.; Provis, J.L.; Proffen, Th.; van Deventer, J.S.J. “Molecular mechanisms responsible for the structural changes occurring during geopolymerization: Multiscale simulation,” AIChE Journal, 2012, 58(7), 2241-2253.
  • Juenger, M.C.G.; Winnefeld, F.; Provis, J.L.; Ideker, J. “Advances in alternative cementitious binders,” Cement and Concrete Research, 2011, 41(12), 1232-1243.
  • Bernal, S.A.; Mejía de Gutierrez, R.; Pedraza, A.L.; Provis, J.L.; Rodríguez, E.D.; Delvasto, S. “Effect of binder content on the performance of alkali-activated slag concretes,” Cement and Concrete Research, 2011, 41(1), 1-8.

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