Professor Michael Walls BSc PhD MIMMM C.Phys C.Eng FInstP
Professor of Photovoltaics for Power Systems
Michael Walls is Professor of Photovoltaics for Power Systems in the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST). He is responsible for photovoltaics device research within CREST and his research focus is in thin film photovoltaics.
Mike started his career at Loughborough University in the Physics Department where he specialized in surface and thin films research and set up a surface analysis facility which provided a successful service to UK industry using a variety of techniques including Auger electron spectroscopy, XPS, Dynamic SIMS and Laser Microprobe. The commercial part of this activity later morphed into the highly successful Loughborough Surface Analysis Ltd.
In 1984, he moved into industry in Technical Director and then Managing Director roles within VG Instruments plc (now Thermo-Fisher Scientific). His team at VG was the first to develop the gallium Focused Ion Beam (FIB) technology and the world’s first Imaging Time-of-Flight SIMS. VG Instruments won the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1987. He then went on to found a series of high technology companies involved in thin film optical coating, thermal management systems and atom probe instrumentation. In 1996, one of these companies, Applied Vision Ltd, won the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement for pioneering the use of magnetron sputtering to deposit anti-reflection coatings on ophthalmic lenses. Applied Vision Ltd was later acquired by the BOC Group in 2001.
Mike returned to Loughborough in 2009. In 2012 he became the Director of the £5m EPSRC Supergen Solar Hub and was awarded the 2012 Award for Research and Development by “SOLAR”. He is a member of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) UK PV Strategy Group and Co-Chair of its Innovation Task Force. He is a member of several Solar Energy Industry bodies including SEII and SESSIG. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of the IEEE Photovoltaics Specialist Conference (PVSC). He is an active member of the Ion and Plasma Surface Interactions (IPSI) Group of the Institute of Physics and is organizer of the “Advances in Photovoltaics” meeting held annually in London.
He has been responsible for more than 100 publications including 3 books and 15 patents.
He is currently Chairman of Applied Thermal Control Ltd which he co-founded in 1995. He is a non-executive Director of Power Vision Ltd, which he co-founded in 2009. In 2014, he became a member of the Advisory Board for The Solar Cloth Company Ltd.
Michael Walls obtained his BSc (1970) and PhD (1973) in Physics at the University of Aston. His PhD studies were carried out jointly with the Department of Materials at Birmingham University where he was later awarded a research fellowship. In 1974 he became a Lecturer in Physics at Loughborough and in 1981 he became Senior Lecturer. In 1982 he was awarded a one year science fellowship by the Nuffield Foundation.
In 1984 he joined VG Instruments plc (now Thermo Fisher Scientific) in Technical Director and then Managing Director roles. In 1989 he was appointed Visiting Professor in Physics at Loughborough.
In1990, he was a founder of Applied Vision Ltd a company that pioneered the use of magnetron sputtering to deposit multilayer anti-reflection coatings on ophthalmic spectacle lenses. The company was awarded the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement in 1996. It was acquired by the BOC Group plc in 2001. He has since helped to found a succession of start-up technology companies. He is currently Chairman of Applied Thermal Control Ltd which is based in Coalville in Leicestershire. He is also a non-executive Director of Power Vision Ltd based in Crewe, Cheshire.
He rejoined Loughborough as Professor of Photovoltaics for Power Systems in 2009.
He was awarded the 2012 Award for Research and Development by “SOLAR” and he became Director of the £5m EPSRC Supergen SuperSolar Hub.
Current research topics include:
- High efficiency thin film CdTe photovoltaics by magnetron sputtering.
- Understanding the atomic scale mechanisms which cause increased conversion efficiency using the cadmium chloride process (in collaboration with Colorado State University)
- Laser ablation/inkjet interconnect manufacturing processes for thin film solar cells.
- Development of Scanning White Light Interferometry for the metrology of thin films (in collaboration with Taylor Hobson Ltd).
- Super-smooth transparent conducting oxides
- Multi-scale atomistic modeling of the deposition of photovoltaic thin films.
- Low cost integrated PV in double glazed windows using CdTe bifacial solar cells
- Reclaimed Silicon wafers for Photovoltaics
- Plasmonic-advanced next-generation ultra-thin crystalline silicon solar cells
“Methods of Surface Analysis” (Cambridge University Press) 1989, 342pp J.M. Walls
“Surface Science Techniques” (Pergamon Press) 1994, 188pp J.M. Walls and R. Smith
'The development of a general three-dimensional surface under ion bombardment' Philosophical Magazine 42 (1980) 235, R. Smith and J.M. Walls
‘Nanometrology project produces technology that advances super-smooth optical thin films’ Europhotonics 12 (2007) 28, A G Spencer, D R Gibson and J M Walls
Loughborough’s track record in Solar”, Solar, Issue V (2010) 74, Michael Walls
‘Thin Film Accuracy’ Solar, Issue X (2011) 14, M Conroy and J M Walls
Modelling evaporation, ion-beam assist and magnetron sputtering of thin metal films over realistic timescales, S. Blackwell, R Smith, S.D. Kenny and J M Walls, Phys Rev B 86 035416 (2012)