Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST)


Professor Mike Walls

Professor Michael Walls

Professor of Photovoltaics for Power Systems
BSc PhD MIMMM C.Phys C.Eng FInstP

Tel: +44 (0)1509 635201

Location: MBG GL12 Garendon Wing, Holywell Park

Michael Walls is Professor of Photovoltaics for Power Systems in the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) at Loughborough University. CREST is part of the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering. He is responsible for photovoltaics device and materials research within CREST and his research focus is in thin film photovoltaics.

After obtaining his PhD, Walls spent 9 months as a Research Fellow at Birmingham University.  He then moved to Loughborough University as a Lecturer 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 plc in 2001.

Walls returned to Loughborough in 2009.  In 2012 he became the Director of the £5m EPSRC Supergen SuperSolar Hub and was awarded the 2012 Award for Research and Development by “SOLAR”.   He is a member of the BEIS 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 Energy Group committee of the Institute of Physics and is organizer of the “Advances in Photovoltaics” meeting held annually in London.  He is Chairman of Applied Thermal Control Ltd which he co-founded in 1995.  He has been responsible for more than 180 publications including 3 books and 16 patents.

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

View all Professor Walls’s publications in the central publications database

Example Publications

[1]    ‘Methods of Surface Analysis’ (Cambridge University Press) 1989, 342pp J.M. Walls

[2]    ‘Surface Science Techniques’ (Pergamon Press) 1994, 188pp J.M. Walls and R. Smith

[3]     ‘Loughborough’s track record in Solar”, Solar, Issue V (2010) 74, Michael Walls

[4]      Modelling evaporation, ion-beam assist and magnetron sputtering of thin metal films over realistic

          timescales’, Phys Rev B 86 035416 (2012) S. Blackwell, R Smith, S.D. Kenny and J M Walls,

[5]     'Multilayer broadband Anti-Reflective Coatings for More Efficient Thin Film CdTe Solar Cells’

          IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, Vol 4 pp 452-456 (2014),  P. M. Kaminski, F.Lisco and J.M. Walls

[1]     ‘Thin film thickness measurements using Scanning White Light Interferometry’ Thin Solid Films,  

          Vol 550 pp10-16,  (2014), B. Maniscalco, P M Kaminski and J.M. Walls

[6]    ‘The role of ZnTe buffer layers on CdTe solar cell performance’, Solar Energy Materials and  

          Solar Cells 147:203-210  (2015)  Wolden CA, Abbas A, Li J, Diercks DR, Meysing 

          DM, Ohno TR, Beach JD, Barnes TM, and Walls JM

Advanced glazing systems, thermal insulation and photovoltaic facades, Cold atmospheric plasmas physics and engineering, Ion and plasma sources, Methods of surface and thin film analysis, Plasma surface modification, Renewable Energy Systems, Semi-transparent bifacial thin film photovoltaics for double glazed windows, Surface analysis techniques for thin film characterization, Thin film photovoltaics, Transparent conducting oxides