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Fellows Directory

Colin Humphreys

Sir Colin Humphreys CBE FREng FRS


Elected: 2011


Colin Humphreys is a materials scientist who has carried out valuable work on the electron microscopy of semiconducting materials. His world-leading research on gallium nitride (GaN) has resulted in a substantially improved understanding of this important material with a wide range of technological applications.

In addition to its potential use within transistors as a next-generation alternative to silicon, GaN emits a brilliant light that makes it an ideal candidate for use in energy-saving LEDs. Colin has pioneered the development of low-cost, high-efficiency GaN-on-silicon (or ‘GaN-on-Si’) LEDs, which are now being manufactured based on his patented research. GaN LED lighting could save the United Kingdom £2 billion per year in electricity costs.

In parallel with his scientific career, Colin has devoted considerable time and effort to communicating materials science to lay audiences. This work led to his being awarded a CBE in January 2003 for services to science as a researcher and communicator, followed by a knighthood in 2010. Since 1996, he has also been a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Professional positions

Professor and Director of Research, Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, University of Cambridge
Court and Past Master, Armourers & Brasiers' Company
Liveryman, Goldsmiths' Company
International Review Panel, Japan Society For The Promotion Of Science
Trustee, Link House Trust
International Scientific Advisory Panel, Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy, Monash University
Director, Rolls-Royce University Technology Partnership in Advanced Materials
Fellow, Selwyn College, University of Cambridge
Tribology Trust Awards Committee, The Institution Of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
International Science Advisory Board, The Photon Science Institute

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Diode lasers, Electron microscopy, Electronic materials, Gallium nitride, High temperature structural materials, Light-emitting diodes, Semiconductors