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Semiconductor Physics Group

This is an IOP special interest group, which is a community of IOP members focused on a particular discipline, application or area of interest. 

Special interest groups allow members to connect and share knowledge and ideas. The IOP funds groups to deliver a range of activities including events, prizes and bursaries. All of our groups are driven by members.  

About the Semiconductor Physics Group

Semiconductor physics is a major area of condensed-matter science and forms the core of modern solid-state device technology.

As a special interest, member-driven group, we are a forum for industrial and university researchers interested in the physics, preparation and application of semiconducting materials, nanostructures and devices.

Our large membership comes from a broad range of backgrounds that often extend beyond physics to electronics, chemistry, and materials science.

What the group does

We have always interacted closely with industrial and government funding bodies.

The community we represent broadens understanding of solids, at the quantum mechanical level, when electrons are confined in potentials with reduced dimensionality at nano-scale, and the carrier movement is restricted to one or two dimensions. This is the main focus for our research.

There is a new range of new solid-state devices. These range from a single photon sources to a novel solar cell with high efficiency. Production is based on recent discoveries in this field. Many more potential devices have been proposed at conceptual or prototype level.

Our group provides umbrella for device technologists to interact with scientists and to explore fundamental aspects of the field. A forum where ideas can be exchanged is particularly important at this time.

Joining an IOP special interest group

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Group competitions

Annual PhD Thesis Competition

This annual thesis prize is for the PhD thesis that makes the strongest contribution to the understanding and development of semiconductor physics and technology.

Find out more about the Annual PhD Thesis Competition

Phil Buckle Research Communication Competition

This competition, named in memory of lecturer and researcher Phil Buckle, invites PhD students attending the UK Semiconductors conference to give a three-minute presentation suitable for a non-specialist audience, outlining their thesis.

Find out more about the Phil Buckle Research Communication Competition

Group events

Find events for the Semiconductor Physics Group

Useful links

The Semiconductors Direct Information Website is regularly updated with links to:

  • suppliers
  • data sheets
  • organisations
  • a list of conferences
  • semiconductor research laboratories

Committee and contacts

Chair Dr Luca Sapienza, FREng MInstP
Secretary Dr Matthew Halsall, CPhys FInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Edmund Clarke, MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Ruomeng Huang, MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Fabien Massabuau, MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr John Mullins, CPhys MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Yasir Noori, MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Juan Pereiro Viterbo, MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Ian Sandall, MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Manoj Saxena, MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Adam Wright
Early Career Physicist Dr Nilanthy Balakrishnan, MInstP

Email: [email protected]

Committee biographies


Dr Luca Sapienza, MInstP
University of Southampton

Luca’s research group, the Solid-State Quantum Optics Group, investigates light-matter interactions at the nanoscale with the aim of both unveiling fundamental quantum phenomena and fabricating novel devices with added quantum functionalities.

These research activities cover the electromagnetic simulation, fabrication and optical characterisation of quantum devices, via time-resolved photoluminescence spectroscopy down to cryogenic temperatures, for future computation and communication quantum technologies based on single photons on a chip.

The devices, made of GaAs and Si-based materials, consist of engineered, disordered and aperiodic photonic crystals, optical cavities and waveguides, embedding single epitaxial and droplet quantum dots as well as luminescent defect centres.


Prof Matthew Halsall, FInstP
University of Manchester

Matthew’s research group studies the interaction of light with electronic devices and materials. The group’s research is very “applied” and most of the devices and materials it studies, such as light-emitting diodes and photovoltaic (solar PV) cells, are supplied by industry in the UK and overseas.

The group uses many physics-based techniques, such as low-temperature photoluminescence, Raman scattering and deep-level transient spectroscopy. It also collaborates with other groups nationally and internationally to access specialist techniques such as positron annihilation, secondary-ion mass spectrometry and electron microscopy.

The aim of all the techniques is to learn how defects in semiconductors affect device performance such as their energy efficiency and its stability. A recent result was the identification of a defect responsible for a loss of efficiency in commercial solar cells in the first few hours of their illumination by the sun.

This defect, with the rapid adoption of solar PV for electricity generation, now loses the planet the energy equivalent of >1Mt (metric ton) of carbon a year.

The materials studied by the group include silicon solar cells, and nitride-based LEDs and transistors. He also researches the integration of 2D materials into silicon for future device geometries.

Ordinary members

Dr Ian Sandall, MinstP
University of Liverpool

Ian is currently a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics at the University of Liverpool, prior to this he obtained his PhD in physics from Cardiff University (on the characterisation of quantum dot lasers) in 2007 and has worked for Philips Research in Eindhoven, and at the University of Sheffield (on mid-infrared photodetectors).

His research primarily concerns the development, characterisation and application of semiconductor-based electronic and photonic sensors. He has experience designing, fabricating and characterising a range of semiconductor-based devices (including transistors, laser diodes and avalanche photodiodes).

Recently this work has evolved into developing compact lab-on-a-chip-based biosensors utilising semiconductor electronic (and optoelectronic) devices as the active sensors.

Dr Juan Pereiro Viterbo, MinstP
Cardiff University

Juan’s research interests are very wide. Most of his research has orbited around thin-film growth and designing new experimental equipment to solve novel physical problems.

He has worked in III-N semiconductors, high-temperature superconductivity, new superconducting materials, interface superconductivity, magnetism, electron and atomic force microscopy, x-ray diffraction and nanostructure fabrication.

His current research focuses on the study of nucleation and relaxation phenomena in thin films and nanostructures of III-As semiconductors. Cardiff University’s LEEM laboratory hosts a unique Molecular Beam Epitaxy/Low Energy Electron Microscope system that allows real-time imaging of real and reciprocal space of the surface of the sample during growth with atomic resolution in z axis and 5-nanometre resolution in x-y directions. The low-energy electrons also allow strain and compositional contrast.

This is a very exciting system that the group will continue developing in order to enable the study of more complex systems. The goal is to understand the physics behind epitaxial growth and to provide complementary information to establish growth parameters to molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE) laboratories across UK.

Dr Adam Wright
University of Oxford

Adam is a postdoctoral researcher in the groups of Professor Laura Herz and Professor Michael Johnston at the University of Oxford, and a stipendiary lecturer in physics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. His research is on metal halide perovskites, a class of materials which have recently achieved remarkable success in solar cells.

The rapid rate of improvement in the efficiencies of perovskite-based devices has however often outpaced understanding of the electronic processes occurring within these semiconductor materials. His work is concerned with providing insight into the factors influencing electron motion and recombination in a series of hybrid metal halide perovskites, principally using photoluminescence spectroscopy.

Such knowledge is essential for the development of higher-performance perovskite-based devices.

Former members

Dr Hareesh Chandrasekar
University of Bristol

His current research interests are in the device and reliability physics of wide-bandgap compound semiconductor devices for radio frequency (RF) and power-switching applications, mainly gallium nitride transistors.

A significant part of this involves developing novel electrical characterisation techniques along with device modelling to better understand the impact of material growth and processing on device performance. For his PhD, he worked on the MOCVD of GaN on Si substrates and developing bottom-up, low-defect density platforms for hetero-epitaxial GaN growth.

As part of continuous professional development Hareesh keeps up to date with the latest developments in a broad range of scientific subjects. Membership of the IET also helps to facilitate this activity, along with regular updates on the website content of leading companies and organisations.

Several areas of physics are key to the fabrication and processing of semiconductor materials such as optics, electronics and increasingly atomic physics as feature sizes continue to scale towards the atomic limit.

One example in optics is extreme ultraviolet lithography, which poses some of the most challenging questions in the transfer of physical principles into a high-volume manufacturing environment.

His motivations have always been to do interesting work which is commercially viable. His passion is to talk about the fundamental science and to engage the interest of others, whilst remembering that the underlying principles are based on our fundamental understanding of the physical world.

Mr Paul Harrison
EnSilica Limited

For over 30 years, Paul’s work has contributed to the fast-moving world of micro-electronics, which is now evolving into the nanotechnology realm. From being a design engineer in the early years of his career, with a background degree and PhD in physics, he has more recently been providing consultancy services to the semiconductor industry.

During these engagements, some with major blue-chip companies such as Ericsson and Philips Semiconductors (now NXP), Paul has made a policy of talking about science. So-called “Lunch and Learn” outreach talks cover topics from his own research as well as the latest innovations from within the integrated circuit (IC) design community.

In addition, he has also been invited to make branch-level presentations to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), as well as the IOP. And, for a number of years, Paul has also given industry talks in several UK universities.

Dr Louise Hirst
University of Cambridge

Louise is a university lecturer jointly in the departments of Physics and Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the development of advanced, high-efficiency III-V photovoltaics, with a particular interest in space power systems.

This includes the development and characterisation of novel III-V alloys and quantum-well systems, and the design and fabrication of alternative device geometries with integrated nanophotonic structures, as well as the development of hot-carrier solar cell concepts for high solar energy conversion efficiency in a relatively simple, thermodynamically elegant system.

She obtained her PhD from Imperial College London in 2012. She was then awarded a National Academy of Sciences Research Associateship held at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, where she became a federal government staff scientist and Karles Distinguished Scholar Fellow, before moving to Cambridge in 2018.