Prof Robert Palgrave

Professor of Inorganic and Materials Chemistry

Dept of Chemistry

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Mar 2012

Research summary

New directions in hybrid solar cell absorbers

Perovskite solar cells have attracted global attention for their high efficiencies and ease of processing. The most promising material is methyl ammonium lead iodide (MAPI). Despite its success, there are significant drawbacks to MAPI. We are developing new hybrid solar absorbers. By adapting the ionic radius concept to apply to heavier halides, we showed that few if any new hybrid halide perovskite materials will be stable (Chem. Sci. 2016). Therefore, by moving away from the perovskite structure, a huge compositional parameter space is opened up, allowing use of optically active organic groups in place of methyl ammonium (Inorg. Chem. 2016). We are currently researching new highly tuneable halide materials. Another direction is the use of structures closely related to perovskite, such as the vacancy ordered double perovskite, or 216 structure. We study the fundamental structural and optical properties of such structures.

Teaching summary

I teach on 2nd and 3rd year materials chemistry courses, covering topics on inorganic metal oxides, thin film technologies.

CHEM0012: Chemistry of Materials (Course organiser)
CHEM0039: New Directions in Materials Chemistry


I completed my Ph.D. (2007) at the Department of Chemistry, University College London on chemical vapour deposition of gold nanoparticle thin films. I then did postdoctoral work at the University of Oxford, working on molecular beam epitaxy and photoemission spectroscopy, and later at the University of Liverpool working on pulsed laser deposition.

In 2012 I was appointed Lecturer at UCL Chemistry, and was promoted to Reader (2017) and Professor (2019). My group's research is on solid state materials chemistry, with a focus on materials with applications in renewable energy generation and storage.

I am Co-Director of the EPSRC National XPS Facility, HarwellXPS, a service providing access to XPS instrumentation and training for UK scientists.

I am chair of UCL Chemistry's outreach committee, and work with a number of charities to encourage wider participation in higher education, including The Institute for Research in Schools, The Tutorfair Foundation and Generating Genius. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.