Jenny Nelson

For the artist, see Jennifer Nelson.
Jenny Nelson

Nelson in 2014, portrait via the Royal Society
Born Jennifer Nelson
Nationality Irish
Institutions Imperial College London
Notable awards

FRS (2014)

Faraday Medal (2016)

Jenny Nelson FRS, is Professor of Physics in the Blackett Laboratory at Imperial College London.[2][3][4][5][6]


Nelson's research 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.[1]

Over the last twenty-five years, Jenny 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.[1]

Since 2010, Jenny 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.[1][7]

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 2000-2010.[8]

Awards and honours

Nelson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2014.[1] Her nomination reads:

Jenny Nelson is distinguished for the development of fundamental physical models, simulation tools and experiments to discover and exploit relationships between the performance of photovoltaic devices and the physical and chemical properties of the constituent materials. She has driven advances in the science and design of quantum semiconductor heterostructures, nanocrystalline oxide, conjugated molecular and hybrid organic-inorganic materials. Through analysis of the electronic, optical and structural properties of these materials she has explained device performance, introduced physical models of device function and developed analytical, numerical and experimental tools for characterisation, diagnostics and design, which have attracted the sustained interest and support of industry.[1]

Nelson has also been awarded a Greenpeace Research Fellowship 1989-1992 and 1996-1997, EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship 1997-2003, Joule Medal and Prize, Institute of Physics (2009), Armourers and Brasiers' Company Prize, (2012), Industry Fellowship, The Royal Society, 2010 - 2013.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Professor Jenny Nelson FRS | Royal Society biographical text reproduced here is available was originally made available under a Creative Commons license
  2. Jenny Nelson's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  3. Dipartimento di Elettronica ed informazione - Intranet
  4. 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. doi:10.1038/nmat1574.
  5. 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. doi:10.1038/nmat2102. PMID 18204451.
  6. 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. doi:10.1063/1.1861123.
  7. The Physics of Solar Cells, Imperial College Press, 2003, ISBN 9781860943492

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