Professor Richard Palmer

Professor, Engineering
Available For Postgraduate Supervision


At Cambridge: MA & PhD; 1851, Clare College & Royal Society Fellowships. At Birmingham: founded the UK's first nanoscience centre (1994). At Swansea: founded the Nanomaterials Lab (2017). Awards: IOP Boys Medal, dr. h.c. Hasselt University, BVC Yarwood Medal, EPSRC Fellowship. Fellow IOP, RSC, LSW. Published 400+ papers, >13,000 citations, h=58. 18 families of patent apps. Spin-outs: Inanovate, Irresistible Materials, Grove Nanomaterials. Editor in Chief, Advances in Physics: X (Taylor and Francis) and Frontiers of Nanoscience (Book Series, Elsevier).


2017-          Head, Nanomaterials Lab, College of Engineering, Swansea University
2015-          Professor, School of Physics, Nanjing University, China
2014-          Editor-in-Chief, Advances in Physics: X (Taylor and Francis Journal)
2004-          Editor, Frontiers of Nanoscience (Elsevier Book Series)
2004-2017   Visiting Professor, University of Wales, Swansea
1994-2017   Professor of Experimental Physics & Head, Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory, University of Birmingham
1993-1994   College Lecturer, Clare College, Cambridge
1988-1994   Royal Society 1983 University Research Fellow, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge
1987-1993   Research Fellow, Clare College, Cambridge
1986-1988   Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Research Fellow, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge
1983-1986   PhD in Physics, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge
1980-1983   B.A. (1st Class) in Natural Sciences (Physics and Theoretical Physics), Trinity Hall, Cambridge
1973-1980   Olchfa Comprehensive School, Swansea

Visiting Positions

2010   Technical University of Denmark (Physics)
2000   Harvard University (Chemistry)
            Oxford University (Chemistry), also Visiting Fellow, St. Catherine’s College
1990   Cornell University (Physics)

Areas Of Expertise

  • Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nanoclusters and Nanoparticles
  • Nanocatalysts, Nanosensors, Nanophotonics
  • Neuromorphic Systems for Information Processing
  • Surface Science including Atomic Manipulation
  • Innovations in Instrumentation

Career Highlights


Research Themes of the Nanomaterials Lab

  • Nanoclusters (nanoparticles), including atomic structure with the aberration-corrected electron microscope, metastability and dynamics, and scale-up.
  • Surface physics, including atomic manipulation with the scanning tunnelling microscope.
  • Applications include catalysis, biomedicine, sensors, photonics, energy generation and storage, environment, semiconductor materials and devices.



4 nanoparticle beam sources, STEM, XPS, SEM, AFM, 4-probe UHV STM

Members of the Nanomaterials Lab

20 = 3 Faculty (REP, Richard Cobley, Thierry Maffeis), 3 Postdocs, 8 Grad Students, 6 Hon Staff 



College of Engineering, Swansea University, Bay Campus & Centre for Nanohealth, Singleton Campus

Award Highlights

Prizes, Distinctions, Honorary Positions

2014        Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales

2013        British Vacuum Council Senior Prize and John Yarwood Memorial Medal

2013-18  EPSRC Senior Research Fellowship

2012        Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

2010        Awarded Honorary Doctorate (dr. h.c.), Hasselt University, Belgium.

2010        Honorary Professor, Petronas University of Technology, Malaysia.

2006        Institute of Physics Ireland Lecturer.

2002-15  Honorary Professor, Harbin Institute of Technology, China.

1997        Institute of Physics Mott Prize Lecturer.

1996        Charles Vernon Boys Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics; Fellow of the Institute of Physics.

1983        Pillai Memorial Prize for Best Result in Natural Sciences at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.


Numerous collaborations in the UK, Europe and across the world.