Personal profile

Research overview

Graham Turnbull’s research combines optical materials and nanophotonics for a range of smart lighting applications that span optical wireless communications, biotechnology, and trace chemical sensing. He has made world-leading contributions to the development of organic semiconductor lasers including the recent advance of an electrically-driven organic laser based on the world’s brightest OLEDs. His group has developed trace chemical sensors for environmental monitoring and for land mine detection, and LED-based lighting for growing algae. Underpinning the device physics and applications are studies of light-matter interactions in organic materials and scalable processing including nanoimprint lithography.

In 2024 Graham Turnbull co-established the Photonics and Quantum Accelerator (PQA), a £5M EPSRC-funded project that brings together Scottish universities, local councils and industry bodies to advance the growth of the photonics sector in Scotland’s Central Belt.


External leadership roles

  • Photonics and Quantum Accelerator (St Andrews lead 2024-2029)
  • CDT in Applied Photonics (St Andrews co-ordinator 2014-)
  • Opening up Photonics (Advisory Board member 2023-)
  • St Andrews Physics Trust Fund (Trustee 2015-2024, Chair 2015-2019)
  • SUPA - Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (management group 2015-2019)
  • SUSSP Scottish Universities Summer Schools in Physics (Trustee 2015-2019)
  • IEEE Photonics Society Scottish Chapter (2003-2015, Chair 2010-2015)

 University leadership roles

  • Head of School of Physics & Astronomy (2015-2019)
  • Acting Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) (2020)
  • Research Excellence Board member (2018-)
  • Senate Elected Member (2020-2024)
  • Director of Postgraduate Studies (P&A) (2011-2015)

Industrial relevance

optical sensors for chemical detection

Smart lighting technologies for data communications and photosynthesis

Organic semiconductor optoelectronic devices

nanoimprint lithography

technologies for security marking

Academic/Professional Qualification

MSci Hons University of St Andrews (1995)

PhD University of St Andrews (1999)

Senior Member of the IEEE (2010)

Fellow of the Institute of Physics (2019)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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