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Dr Neil Beattie

Associate Professor / Head of Subject (Physics Programmes)

Department: Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

I am an experimental physicist specialising in nanostructures for novel optoelectronic devices.

Dr -Neil -BeattieI studied physics at the University of Strathclyde (1996-2000) before doing a PhD in semiconductor nanotechnology at the University of Cambridge (2000-2005). This research involved using quantum dots for applications in quantum information and was sponsored by Toshiba Research Europe.  Following my PhD, I was employed as an Innovation Consultant by Innovia Technology (2005-2009).  Working in this role I managed and delivered >£1M in R&D projects for some of the world’s biggest companies including Shell, Rolls-Royce, Boeing and Procter & Gamble. Combining my interest in sustainable energy with quantum physics, I joined Northumbria University in 2009 to work on novel semiconductor devices and in particular, solar cells. In 2013 I led the launch of Northumbria University’s BSc physics degrees which were accredited by the Institute of Physics in 2016.


Northumbria PV

North East Centre for Energy Materials

Campus Address

Ellison Building

0191 227 4592


PhD, BSc, MInstP, FHEA


Postgraduate Supervision

Ms Xinya Xu, Earth abundant photovoltaic nanocrystal inks, in progress

Dr Yongtao Qu, Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4 solar cells prepared from Cu2ZnSnS4 nanoparticle inks, graduated July 2016

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My areas of research focus on exploiting quantum mechanical behaviour to create optoelectronic devices that are faster, cheaper or more efficient. I currently  lead two major projects:

Quantum dot intermediate band solar cells: focusing on III-V technologies, we take a rigorous quantum mechanical approach to design and engineer quantum dot arrays that will significantly enhance the efficiency of concentrator and multijunction solar cells. This project involves three UK universities, two national laboratories and several multinational companies.

Earth abundant thin film solar cells made from nanoparticle inks: the objectives of this project are to create thin film solar cells that are low cost, sustainable and suitable for large area deployment. We focus on creating thin film photovoltaic absorbers from solution processed nanoparticle inks. These layers have excellent light absorption properties and can be fully integrated with a conventional thin film solar cell.For this project I am the Northumbria University PI for the EPSRC funded North East Centre for Energy Materials which is a collaboration between the universities of Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham.

In addition to photovoltaics, I am interested in low-dimensional semiconductors for energy applications. This interest stems from completing more than 10 assignments for Shell while working as an Innovation Consultant with Innovia Technology from 2005-2009. Through this work I gained significant project management experience of R&D projects and generated >£1M in revenue. Prior to this role I completed a PhD (single photon detection for quantum information applications) at the University of Cambridge and received an Industrial CASE Award from Toshiba Research Europe (2000-2005).

Current Teaching Activity

I am the module tutor for:

EN0411 Fundamentals of Energy Systems

EN0582 Quantum Universe

EN0641 Quantum Devices

EE0728 Soft and Nanomaterials

Professional Activity

Member of the Higher Education Advisory Group, Institute of Physics

Accreditation Assessor for the Institute of Physics

Reviewer for EPSRC

Reviewer for academic journals including: Renewable Energy, Applied Surface Science, Applied Energy

Invited External Advisor for postgraduate taught masters programmes

Current/Recent Projects

North east centre for energy materials, EP/R021503/1 (2017-2021), £322k of ~£2M

Quantum engineering intermediate band solar cells, N. S. Beattie, ESTEEM2, 20151110-Beattie, (2015), £7k

High efficiency quantum dot solar cells, Daphne Jackson Trust Research Fellowship , supervised by N. S. Beattie (2013-2015), £54k

A low cost nanostructure fabrication system for sustainable solar paint, N. S. Beattie, The Royal Society, RG120090, (2012-13), £15k

Sponsors and Collaborators

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

The Royal Society

University of Cambridge, UK

University of Salford, UK

National Physical Laboratory, UK

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons, Jülich, Germany

Solar Capture Technologies, Blyth, UK

Big Solar, Sunderland, UK

Key Publications

Qu, Yongtao, Zoppi, Guillaume and Beattie, Neil (2016) The role of nanoparticle inks in determining the performance of solution processed Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4 thin film solar cells. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, 24 (6). pp. 836-845. ISSN 1062 7995

Qu, Yongtao, Zoppi, Guillaume and Beattie, Neil (2015) Selenization kinetics in Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4 solar cells prepared from nanoparticle inks. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells. ISSN 0927-0248 (In Press)

Qu, Yongtao, Zoppi, Guillaume, Miles, Robert and Beattie, Neil (2014) Influence of reaction conditions on the properties of solution-processed Cu2ZnSnS4 nanocrystals. Materials Research Express, 1 (4). 045040. ISSN 2158-5849

Beattie, Neil, Zoppi, Guillaume, See, Patrick, Farrer, Ian, Morrison, Dominique, Miles, Robert and Ritchie, David (2014) Analysis of InAs/GaAs quantum dot solar cells using Suns-Voc measurements. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 130 (SI). pp. 241-245. ISSN 0927-0248

Aninat, Rémi, Zoppi, Guillaume, Tempez, Agnès, Chapon, Patrick, Beattie, Neil, Miles, Robert and Forbes, Ian (2013) Crystallographic properties and elemental migration in two-stage prepared CuIn1−xAlxSe2 thin films for photovoltaic applications. Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 566. pp. 180-186. ISSN 0925-8388

Luckert, Franziska, Hamilton, David, Yakushev, Michael, Beattie, Neil, Zoppi, Guillaume, Moynihan, Matthew, Forbes, Ian, Karotki, Anatoli, Mudryi, Alexandre, Grossberg, Maarja, Krustok, Jüri and Martin, Robert (2011) Optical properties of high quality Cu2ZnSnSe4 thin films. Applied Physics Letters, 99 (6). ISSN 0003-6951 

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