Jenny Nelson

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Jenny Nelson
Professor Jenny Nelson FRS.jpg
Jenny Nelson at Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2014
Born Jennifer Nelson
Nationality Irish
Alma mater University of Cambridge (BA)
University of Bristol (PhD)
Awards FRS (2014)
Faraday Medal and Prize (2016)
Scientific career
Fields Solar cells[1]
Institutions Imperial College London
Thesis Optics of fractal clusters: with reference to soot (1988)
Doctoral advisor Michael Victor Berry[2]

Jenny Nelson FRS, is Professor of Physics and Head of the Mitigation team at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London.[3][4][5][6][7]


Nelson was educated at the University of Cambridge[8] and the University of Bristol where she was awarded a PhD in 1988 for research on the optics of fractal clusters supervised by Michael Berry.[2]

Research and career[edit]

Nelson's research[1] is devoted to characterising the materials used to build and improve photovoltaic devices, which convert energy from the Sun into electricity. She applies a range of tools that include physical models, simulation and experiments to optimise the performance of such devices through their composite materials.[9]

Over the last twenty-five years, Nelson has worked with many types of energy converting materials, ranging from molecular materials to inorganic materials such as nanocrystalline oxides, and organic–inorganic hybrids. She uses information describing the electronic, optical and structural properties of these materials to inform the design of her devices, an approach that has garnered strong interest from industry.[9]

Since 2010, Nelson has also been studying the potential of photovoltaic technologies to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted during the generation of electricity, lessening the impact on climate change. She is the author of a popular textbook, The Physics of Solar Cells.[9][10]

Nelson research has focused on the development of detailed physical descriptions of novel nanostructured or disordered (organic electronic) materials, the quantitative validation of model results against experimental data, and above all, the application of physical science to address the challenges in energy supply, in particular, in the area of photovoltaic energy conversion. Her work on the functional understanding of organic photovoltaic materials and devices has been her focus since 2000.

Nelson is ranked by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the top 100 materials scientists in the world on the basis of the impact (citations per paper) of her journal papers published between 2000 and 2010.[11]

In 2013 Nelson joined Welsh Government's Sêr Cymru programme, a £50 million initiative to enhance solar research capability in Wales. Alongside her chair at Imperial, Nelson is Sêr Cymru Joint Chair and Professor of Physics at SPECIFIC, Swansea University.[12] SPECIFIC is located at the Innovation and Knowledge Centre at Baglan Energy Park, and the initiative is widely celebrated as a beacon for progress in Welsh science.[13]

Awards and honours[edit]

Nelson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2014.[9] Her nomination reads:

Nelson has also been awarded a Greenpeace Research Fellowship 1989–1992 and 1996–1997,[citation needed] EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship 1997–2003,[citation needed] Joule Medal and Prize[14], Institute of Physics (2009),[citation needed] Armourers and Brasiers' Company Prize (2012), Industry Fellowship, The Royal Society, 2010 – 2013.[citation needed] In 2016 Nelson won the Institute of Physics Faraday Medal and Prize, for "pioneering advances in the science of nanostructured and molecular semiconductor materials".[15]. In 2017 she won the Imperial College Union Student Choice Award for Best Supervision, with students nominating her for her outstanding commitment to their scientific careers: "I came to Jenny at a time when my faith in myself and the scientific process was at all time low. She believed in me when I didn't".[16]


  1. ^ a b Jenny Nelson publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ a b Jenny Nelson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Jenny Nelson publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  4. ^ "Intranet DEIB". 
  5. ^ Kim, Y.; Cook, S.; Tuladhar, S. M.; Choulis, S. A.; Nelson, J.; Durrant, J. R.; Bradley, D. D. C.; Giles, M.; McCulloch, I.; Ha, C. S.; Ree, M. (2006). "A strong regioregularity effect in self-organizing conjugated polymer films and high-efficiency polythiophene:fullerene solar cells". Nature Materials. 5 (3): 197. Bibcode:2006NatMa...5..197K. doi:10.1038/nmat1574.  (subscription required)
  6. ^ Campoy-Quiles, M.; Ferenczi, T.; Agostinelli, T.; Etchegoin, P. G.; Kim, Y.; Anthopoulos, T. D.; Stavrinou, P. N.; Bradley, D. D. C.; Nelson, J. (2008). "Morphology evolution via self-organization and lateral and vertical diffusion in polymer:fullerene solar cell blends". Nature Materials. 7 (2): 158–64. Bibcode:2008NatMa...7..158C. doi:10.1038/nmat2102. PMID 18204451.  (subscription required)
  7. ^ Kim, Y.; Choulis, S. A.; Nelson, J.; Bradley, D. D. C.; Cook, S.; Durrant, J. R. (2005). "Device annealing effect in organic solar cells with blends of regioregular poly(3-hexylthiophene) and soluble fullerene". Applied Physics Letters. 86 (6): 063502. Bibcode:2005ApPhL..86f3502K. doi:10.1063/1.1861123.  (subscription required)
  8. ^ NELSON, Prof. Jenny. Who's Who. 2017 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  closed access publication – behind paywall (subscription required)
  9. ^ a b c d e Professor Jenny Nelson FRS | Royal Society biographical text reproduced here is available was originally made available under a Creative Commons license
  10. ^ The Physics of Solar Cells, Imperial College Press, 2003, ISBN 9781860943492
  11. ^ Analytics, Clarivate. "Top 100 Materials Scientists - - Clarivate Analytics". 
  12. ^ "Specific | Our People". Retrieved 2017-09-28. 
  13. ^ "Welsh Government | Written Statement - Progress on Aspects of Science for Wales". Retrieved 2017-09-28. 
  14. ^ "2009 Joule medal and prize". Institute of Physics. Institute of Physics. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  15. ^ Physics, Institute of. "2016 Faraday Medal and prize of the Institute of Physics". Retrieved 2017-09-28. 
  16. ^ "Prof Jenny Nelson". Imperial College Union. 2017-05-16. Retrieved 2017-09-28.