Department of Engineering / Profiles / Prof. Arokia Nathan

Department of Engineering

Prof. Arokia Nathan


Arokia Nathan

Professor of Photonic Systems and Displays

Academic Division: Electrical Engineering

Research group: Solid State Electronics and Nanoscale Science

Telephone: +44 1223 7 48302



Research interests

Professor Nathan's research addresses the integration of electronics with emerging materials for large area flexible electronics to revolutionise human–machine interfaces in an attempt to turn science fiction into reality. From interactive e-paper to clothing that generates energy and has communications capabilities, weaving electronics into the building blocks of everyday materials will undoubtedly impact how we live in the future.

One of his primary visions is the foundation of a new Design Centre for Large Area Electronics based on a multi-disciplinary environment of materials, energy, bio-nanoelectronics, and radio-frequency communications. The group’s global mission; to heterogeneously integrate electronics and photonics at the nano-scale over large areas to monitor, control, modify, and broadcast. Here, power is a vital parameter to address. For example, If a magazine has an electronic display as an integral part of the page, then it must generate its own power source to ensure mass minimisation and can be derived from embedded solar, thermoelectric or wireless transfer energy sources. Such devices facilitate ‘green broadcasting’ to build a picture of an individual, free-standing self-powering their portable device which otherwise lays idle. Part of this vision is the transmission of data at very low bit rates with minimal power consumption.

Industries such as biomedicine may also benefit hugely from this interlacing of nano-electronics into macroscopic applications. Patients might lie on a woven electronic surface which allows data to be sensed, analyzed, and broadcasted straight from the bedside - producing a degree of integration that is simply not possible with Pentium-like chips due to yield and cost issues.

With these non-conventional materials you access a great deal of freedom in device functionality and form. He believes this approach to circuitry design in substrates will lead to the creation of smart substances. Application currently under investigation in the group include e-surgeon’s (gloves with smart skin), the active wall (integrated energy storage, energy transmission, and large area displays), the Harry Potter Gazette (magazines with interactive video), and mobile diagnostics (bio-interfaces with diagnostic capabilities embedded in mobile phone platforms).

Strategic themes

Energy, transport and urban infrastructure

Heterogeneous integration and system-level design of large area autonomous systems to monitor/control/modify/broadcast surface characteristics.

Other positions

  • Chair for Photonic Systems and Displays
  • Fellow and Chartered Engineer, IET
  • Fellow, IEEE
  • Distinguished Lecturer, IEEE Electron Devices Society
  • Member of Society for Information Displays, Electro Chemical
  • Materials Research Society, American Physical Society
  • Editor-in-Chief, OSA/IEEE Journal of Display Technology


Professor Arokia Nathan holds the Chair of Photonic Systems and Displays in the Department of Engineering, Cambridge University. He received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alberta. Following post-doctoral years at LSI Logic Corp., USA and ETH Zurich, Switzerland, he joined the University of Waterloo where he held the DALSA/NSERC Industrial Research Chair in sensor technology and subsequently the Canada Research Chair in nano-scale flexible circuits. He was a recipient of the 2001 NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Fellowship. In 2006, he moved to the UK to take up the Sumitomo Chair of Nanotechnology at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London, where he received the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.  He has held Visiting Professor appointments at the Physical Electronics Laboratory, ETH Zürich and the Engineering Department, Cambridge University, UK. He has published over 400 papers in the field of sensor technology and CAD, and thin film transistor electronics, and is a co-author of four books. He has over 50 patents filed/awarded and has founded/co-founded four spin-off companies. He serves on technical committees and editorial boards in various capacities. He is a Chartered Engineer (UK), Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (UK), Fellow of IEEE (USA), and an IEEE/EDS Distinguished Lecturer.