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Fellows Directory

Paul O'Brien

Paul O'Brien

Professor Paul O'Brien CBE FREng FRS


Elected: 2013


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

Paul was a strong advocate of communicating science to a wider audience and gives popular talks — usually on nanotechnology — including Café Scientifique and school lectures. He edited many books, including a series on nanoscience and technology for the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). His accolades included 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.

Professor Paul O'Brien CBE FREng FRS died on 16 October 2018.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, materials, Chemistry, applied


Nanoscience, Thin Films, Semiconductors, Functional Materials, Inorganic Chemistry, Materials Chemistry, Chalcogenides, oxides

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