Dr Alan Dunbar

Dr Alan Dunbar

Senior Lecturer in Energy
Assistant Faculty Director of Learning and Teaching (Student Experience)


Alan Dunbar attained an MPhys in Physics with Electronics at UMIST (Manchester) in 1997, and also his PhD entitled `Preparation and characterisation of Silicon – Germanium quantum dots´ in 2001 under the supervision of Dr M. Halsall. After his PhD, Alan moved to the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand to work for two years with Associate Professor Simon Brown investigating the electrical properties of metallic nano-particles. He applied percolation theory to explain the onset of conduction in thin films of deposited nano-particles in conjunction with morphological data obtained by atomic force microscopy and electron microscopy.

Alan then returned to the UK to begin working in the University of Sheffield's Department of Physics and Astronomy where he developed gas sensors for volatile organic compounds with Dr T. Richardson. The porphyrin based gas sensors undergo strong colour changes upon exposure to specific toxic gases which co-ordinate to the porphyrin as axial ligands.

Alan then took up a research post working with Prof. R. Jones FRS and Prof D Lidzey focused on the optimization of polymer based solar cells through understanding how the nano-scale morphology of the thin polymer films wthin the devices influences the device efficiency. This involved in situ spectroscopic ellipsometry and x-ray reflectivity to investigate the development of phase separation during the deposition of the thin films of solar cell materials.

In 2009 he was appointed as lecturer in energy in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Sheffield, and in 2010 he took on the role of first year tutor. In Jan 2014 he took on the role of Post Graduate Research Tutor, and then in Sept 2014 became Director of Student Support. In 2015 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Energy. He now leads an active and diverse research group studying his various research interests.


  • Polymer Based Solar Cells
  • Experimental techniques to characterise nano-scale phase separation in polymers
  • Thin film toxic gas sensors
  • Electrical properties of nano-structured systems


  • CPE430/ CPE6000 Low Carbon Energy, Science and Technology
  • CPE1002 Chemical Engineering Design (Chemical Process Principles 1)
  • CPE101/110


Journal articles
Conference proceedings papers
  • McNaughton AJ, Richardson TH, Barford W, Dunbar A, Hutchinson J & Hunter CA (2006) Characterisation of the reaction of free-base porphyrin to nitrogen dioxideCOLLOIDS AND SURFACES A-PHYSICOCHEMICAL AND ENGINEERING ASPECTS, Vol. 284 (pp 345-349)  
  • Dunbar A, Richardson TH, McNaughton AJ, Barford W, Hutchinson J & Hunter CA (2006) Understanding the interactions of porphryin LB films with NO2COLLOIDS AND SURFACES A-PHYSICOCHEMICAL AND ENGINEERING ASPECTS, Vol. 284 (pp 339-344)  
  • Wise EM, Foster HE, Myers A, van Zwanenberg TD, Coady DA & Walker DJ (2006) Paediatric musculoskeletal learning needs of general practice registrars. RHEUMATOLOGY, Vol. 45 (pp I79-I80)  
  • Ayesh AI, Partridge JG, Brown SA, Reichel R & Dunbar ADF (2005) Assembly of bismuth clusters into nanowires using etched V-grooves as templates. Conference on Optoelectronic and Microelectronic Materials and Devices, Proceedings, COMMAD (pp 327-330)  
  • Dunbar ADF, Partridge JG, Schulze M, Scott S & Brown SA (2003) Measurement of the Conductivity Exponent in Random Percolating Networks of Nanoscale Bismuth Clusters.ICMENS (pp 350-356)  
  • Partridge J, Scott S, Dunbar A, Schulze M, Brown SA, Wurl A & Blaikie R (2003) Formation of electrically conducting mesoscale wires through self-assembly of atomic clusters. Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, Vol. 5118 (pp 411-420)  
  • Schmelzer Jr. J, Brown SA, Schulze M, Dunbar A, Partridge J, Gourley S, Ramsay B, Wurl A, Hyslop M & Blaikie R (2003) Formation of Nanowires at the Percolation Threshold in Rectangular 2D Systems. Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, Vol. 5055 (pp 189-203)  
  • Dunbar ADF, Halsall MP, Bangert U, Harvey A, Dawson P, Joyce BA, Zhang J & Berbezier I (2001) Studies of compositional variations in germanium quantum dots grown on silicon. Materials Research Society Symposium - Proceedings, Vol. 638 (pp F1451-F1456)  
  • Dunbar A, Hall S, Halsall M & Bangert U (1997) Investigations of ordering in AlGaInP. MICROSCOPY OF SEMICONDUCTING MATERIALS 1997(157) (pp 257-260)