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Fellows Directory

Paul O'Brien

Professor Paul O'Brien CBE FREng FRS


Elected: 2013


Paul O’Brien is one of the world’s leading inorganic materials scientists focusing on developing new chemical processes for manufacturing thin films and nanoparticles. Amongst these are chemical vapour deposition techniques for compounds containing sulfur or selenium, and a very simple method for making quantum dots — semiconductor nanocrystals that show quantum behaviour.

Paul is a strong believer in interdisciplinary work and has collaborated on projects with physicists, computer scientists and electronic and electrical engineers. His interest in the toxicity of metal ions has led to collaborations and publications with toxicologists, pharmacists and clinicians.

Paul is a strong advocate of communicating science to a wider audience and gives popular talks — usually on nanotechnology — including Café Scientifique and school lectures. He has edited many books, including a series on nanoscience and technology for the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). His accolades include the Kroll Award, the IOM3’s Sir Colin Humphries Award (for outreach) and Platinum Medal, the SDC Gold Medal, the RSC’s first Peter Day Award, and honorary degrees from the universities of Zululand, Liverpool and Aveiro.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Chalcogenides, Functional Materials, Inorganic chemistry, Materials chemistry, Nanoscience, Oxides, Semiconductors, Thin films