Back to list

Professor Jenny Nelson 

Year started




Fellow Type


Professor Jenny 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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

Jenny was an undergraduate at Churchill College.