Department of Engineering / Profiles / Prof. Michael J Kelly

Department of Engineering

Prof. Michael J Kelly FRS, FREng, Hon FRSNZ MAE


Michael J Kelly

Emeritus Staff

Academic Division: Electrical Engineering


Research interests

Professor Kelly's research aims to answer the following questions:

  • Most of today’s nanoscience will never become a nanotechnology, not least because of the inability to control intrinsic fluctuations in small structures.  What subset of nanostructures is manufacturable in practice?
  • Electron tunneling devices make extreme demands on interface integrity, with special growth techniques needed to achieve tunnel devices. How can these techniques be achieved?
  • What practical devices might emerge from exploiting the quantum coherence of electrons as waves in semiconductors: the quantum multiplexer?
  • Any serious reduction in carbon dioxide emissions requires the whole scale retrofit of the national building stock?  How practicable is this?
  • How is scientific uncertainty to be cast and acknowledged in the formation of national policies on energy, buildings etc, with special reference to climate science?

Strategic themes

Energy, transport and urban infrastructure

Energy in buildings, retrofit at the urban scale.

Manufacturing, design and materials

Work with many companies involved in electronic device developments.

Complex, resilient and intelligent systems

What climate science findings are sufficiently robust to guide policy decisions that will have outcomes lasting 50 years, as in infrastructure renewal?

Other positions

  • Non-executive Director Laid plc
  • Professorial Fellow at Trinity Hall


Professor Michael Kelly is the Prince Philip Professor of Technology in the University of Cambridge since 2002, and a Professorial Fellow at Trinity Hall.  Since 2006 he has been a Non-executive Director of the Laird plc.

He studied Mathematics and Physics to MSc (1971) level at Victoria University of Wellington, and completed a PhD (1974) in solid state physics at the University of Cambridge where he continued post-doctoral work until 1981 when he joined the GEC Hirst Research Centre.  While there he and his team developed, from concept to product, two new generation families of microwave devices that went, and one is still, in production with E2V Technologies in Lincoln.  From 1992-2002 he was Professor of Physics and Electronics at the University of Surrey, including a term as Head of the School of Electronics and Physical Sciences.  His research since 1990 has concentrated on the technology issues germane to the practical large-volume low-cost manufacture of the most advanced electronic devices.  During 2003-5, we was the Executive Director of the Cambridge-MIT Institute, an £80M project which brought together academics from Cambridge and MIT to work on research, education and industrial outreach for the benefit of the UK economy.  He has also served as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department for Communities and Local Government during 2006-9 where he focused on energy demand reduction in the built environment.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Honorary Fellow the Royal Society of New Zealand.  He is also a member of Europaea Academia.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and Senior Member of the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in the USA.  He has won prizes for his work from GEC, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society.  He has an honorary DSc from Victoria University of Wellington.