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School of Physics and Astronomy

Professor Alan Drew


Head of CCMMP | Professor of Experimental Physics | Director of the Materials Research Institute

Telephone: 020 7882 3435
Room Number: G.O. Jones Building, Room 213


Professor Alan Drew was appointed Leverhulme Fellow in the Centre for Condensed Matter & Materials Physics in 2008. He was rapidly promoted to Senior Lecturer (2011) and then Reader (2012), and in 2018 was promoted to Professor. Prof. Drew has been awarded a number of prestigious fellowships and awards over his career, starting with a Fellowship of the Royal Commission of the Exhibition of 1851 (2004), Leverhulme Fellow (2008), European Research Council (ERC) Fellow (2012), Talent 1000 Scholar of the Chinese Ministry of Education (2014) and Changjiang Distinguished Professor at Sichuan University (2015). He is currently Head of the CCMMP Research Centre, and Director of the Materials Research Institute.

His main research interests are using spin sensitive and structural probes situated at central facilities to characterise and understand the fundamental properties of materials, with applications in areas such as spin and charge carrier dynamics in organic and biological materials, energy materials, spintronics, novel quantum states and biomass nanostructured carbons.


Update April 2021: Delivering Battery Revolution: Reducing The Drivers of Climate Change in Indonesia 

National Battery Research Institute (NBRI) in Indonesia and Queen Mary University London  (QMUL), in collaboration with the British Council, are pleased to invite you to participate in a Climate Challenge Workshop on “Delivering Battery Revolution: Reducing The Drivers of Climate Change in Indonesia” to be held 12-14th July 2021.

The aim of this Climate Challenge Workshop is to harness the power of people all over the world – particularly young people and those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change – to connect and collaborate through culture and education to combat climate change. This workshop will explain the causes and the role that Indonesia has on climate change, locally and globally, across different economic sectors (e.g transport, energy, industry, tourism, household) as well as the social and economic impact that climate change will have on Indonesia. It will address the solutions, whether technological or socioeconomic, by the following themes: 

  1. Climate change specific to Indonesia - causes and effects.
  2. Technological solutions that combine renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro) with batteries, put into the context of a battery transport revolution in Indonesia
  3. Socioeconomic, policy and financial barriers to climate change solutions in Indonesia

We seek an expression of interest in joining a pre-workshop networking session to be held in May, which will enable attendees to form interdisciplinary and international teams to  bid for research funding in the area of  climate change, batteries and energy production/usage in Indonesia.  The total Challenge Prize is £30,000. The expression of interest deadline is short (20th  May), with the final proposals due 22nd  June.

There is also an opportunity to submit an abstract for talk (deadline also 22th June), and there will be Dissemination Awards for those that give the best talks, to be used to present at a conference later in the year.


For more information, please go to our website at

Prof. Alan Drew (QMUL / Chair)

Prof. Evvy Kartini (NBRI  /  Vice-Chair)

Research Prizes

The prizes of a total of £20,000 will be awarded for in the  region of 4 excellent research proposals, with a maximum prize value of £8,000. These challenge research prizes are aimed at enabling ECRs to undertake a piece of original research involving the thematic subject covered by the workshop. Please register your interest by the 20th May, and you will be contacted with information about the networking event that will  enable teams to be formed and the application to be made. 

Dissemination Awards

In addition, DA will be a prize fund of total £10,000 with a maximum budget of £2k per person. This will be awarded to speakers at the workshop  in order to present their work at an international climate change conference. ECRs are welcome to submit an abstract to present their research on climate change at the workshop, where the best speakers will be chosen. The deadline for this is June 22nd and we encourage potential candidates to await the announcement of whether our activities will be awarded an exhibition stand at COP26  in Glasgow before applying.




Projects (2021-22)

Time frequency analysis of musical instruments (BSc / MSci)

This project will develop computer code (in Matlab) to analyse the frequency, or pitch, content of the sounds produced by musical instruments. There are three methods to be considered, each building on the knowledge gained in previous methods.

  1. Fourier Analysis: The classic method, using Fourier analysis, identifies fundamentals and overtones of individual notes. The project will develop codes and understanding to undertake Fourier transforms that are able to identify the note played  (e.g A, B, C etc.) and the instrument on which it is played.
  2. Spectrograms: This second method analyses the changes in fundamental frequencies and overtones over time as several notes are played (i.e time dependent Fourier analysis). Spectrograms produce a time-frequency description of a musical passage, which might be a more  accurate way to determine the instrument being played.
  3. Scalograms: This third method produces far more detailed time-frequency descriptions within the region of the time-frequency plane typically occupied by musical sounds, typically using wavelets as the primary analysis tool. Scalograms allow one to zoom in on selected regions of the time-frequency plane in a more flexible manner than is possible with spectrograms. They have a natural interpretation of musical scale, as they can be more useful than the spectrogram for analysing real-world signals with features occurring at different scales — for example, signals with slowly varying events punctuated by abrupt transients.

Depending on progress in the project, it is anticipated that all three of these techniques could be used. It is anticipated that they will be  used to analyse music played on a piano and a guitar (plus any other instrument at the student’s discretion – or even voice!). The two time-frequency methods, spectrograms and scalograms, will be compared to the classic Fourier approach.


Software for analysing muon spin rotation/relaxation/resonance data (BSc / MSci)

This project will develop computer code (in Matlab) to analyse time dependent muon spin  rotation/relaxation/resonance (MuSR) data taken at central facilities. It will involve creating read-in routines of raw detector counts, and correctly handling the data to robustly form physically meaningful quantities. An understanding of the physics of the MuSR instruments, MuSR measurements and muon physics will be developed by the student. The project will then develop appropriate physically meaningful models to fit to some simple data from a material physics background (e.g a semiconductor or metal), and a comparison to standard software will be made to benchmark the developed software. Depending on progress, the project could be extended to more challenging physics problems, more complex analysis methods (e.g frequency-time analysis) or developing physical models for the parameters extracted from fitting the muon data.


Technological solutions to climate change (Review)

This project will review the causes and drivers of climate change, their effect and the potential technological solutions to mitigate the effects of and reduce the drivers of climate change, covering both the developed and developing world. Starting with an outline of the problems (e.g Indonesia is the 5th largest CO2 emitter - why? What about China, largest producer, but on behalf of who?), it will then go onto cover the science behind the climate (involving atmospheric physics, heat absorption due to CO2 etc.) and then move on to what specifical problems that various  countries may face in the future. The major part of this review, however, will be technological solutions to reducing CO2 from being made in the first place as well as reducing the impact of any climate change driven problems. It will involve estimating the  impact of different technologies (i.e their capability to deliver) when compared to the  overall problem. Example technologies  to consider are carbon dioxide sequestration, hydrogen cells (combined with carbon sequestration?), battery electric vehicles, solar/wind power generation and storage etc.... This could also include an analysis of full-life-cycle carbon costs of these technologies, which is both complex to calculate and an underused method when governments form policy.  



Research Interests:

Professor Drew's main research interests are using spin sensitive and structural probes situated at central facilities to characterise and understand the fundamental properties of materials, backed up with laboratory based techniques (e.g magnetic, structural and electrical characterisation, thin film growth, raman/IR spectroscopy, electro/photo luminescence). His main research topics are:

  • Understanding spin and charge carrier dynamics in organic and biological materials, relevant for energy (solar cells), data storage (spintronics) and biological systems (electron stransfer)
  • The properties of materials with novel quantum mechanical states, relevant for energy (quantum dots for solar cells) and novel quantum states
  • Structure function relationships in biomass derived carbons, relevant for energy (solar cells and battery materials)

He is also active in international develpoment, most recently having founded the Indonesian National Batteries Research Institute (2020) funded via institutional GCFR QR grant, and a British Council Researcher Links Climate Change workshop “Delivering a battery revolution - reducing the drivers of climate change in Indonesia”),  which is a satellite workshop of COP26 to be held in Glasgow. 


Current funding:


  • £49,700 British Council - GCRF (February 2021 – March 2022): Researchers Links COP26 Workshop “Delivering a battery revolution - reducing the drivers of climate change in Indonesia”
  • £11,880 STFC (September 2020 – April 2021): In-situ in-operando x-ray absorption cell for electrochemical experiments
  • £49,800 (January 2020 – July 2021), GCRF: Indonesian National Batteries Research Institute.
  • £1,361,836 (January 2018 – July 2021), EPSRC EP/R021554/1 “ISCF Wave 1:Designing Electrodes for Na Ion Batteries via Structure Electrochemical Performance Correlations”. Co-investigator (M. Titirici as PI).

Previous funding:

  • £20,000 (Nov 2018 - June 2019), GCRF funding for scientific and policy workshop on biomass derived functional materials, Indonesia April 2019.
  • £24,000 (March 2014 – March 2016) Royal Society and Chinese National Science Foundation Joint International Project, with Prof. Song Gao of Peking University, on molecular magnetism.
  • £1.7M (17M Yuan, August 2013), Chinese Ministry of Education. Laboratory refurbishment for the Sino- British Materials Research Institute. Co-investigator (W. Gillin as PI).
  • 1,486,000 (December 2012 – November 2017) European Research Council Starting Independent Researcher Grant, “MuSES: Muon Spectroscopy of Excited States”. Primary Investigator.
  • 309,000 (July 2011 – June 2014) EU-FP7 NMP programme: “Next Generation Hybrid Interfaces for Spintronics Applications”. Primary Investigator.
  • £267,447 (October 2009- April 2012), EPSRC EP/G054568/1 “Investigation of intrinsic charge and spin transport mechanisms in organic molecules”. Primary Investigator.
  • £81,000 (September 2008 – September 2011), Early Career Fellowship, Leverhulme Trust. Primary investigator.
  • CHF 600,000 (submission date September 2007), Swiss National Science Foundation (Independent Research) 200020-119784 “Interplay of magnetic correlations with electronic transport and superconductivity in oxides with strongly correlated charge carriers and subsequent multilayers”. Co-investigator (C. Bernhard as PI).
  • CHF 330,000 (submission date February 2007), Swiss National Science Foundation (R’Equip) 206021- 117403 “Multipurpose chemical vapour deposition system and carousel for sample transfer from existing pulsed laser deposition system”. Co-investigator (K Fromm as PI).
  • CHF 800,000 (March 2006 – March 2009) FriMat private donation “Epitaxial perovskite oxide growth”. Co- investigator (C. Bernhard as PI).
  • CHF 250,000 (submission date February 2006), Swiss National Science Foundation (R’Equip) 206021- 113057: “Pulsed laser deposition system for epitaxial perovskite oxide growth”. Co-investigator (C. Bernhard as PI).
  • £50,000 (October 2004 – October 2006), Research Fellowship of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. Primary Investigator.
  • £25,765 in small grants from the Royal Society, STFC, University of London and EPSRC for travel, consumables and small equipment.

Career income to date: £7.1M approx. (since  2004).




Current Research Group:

  • Evangelin Hutamaningtyas (January 2020 - Present): Developing Sn-carbon composite anode materials for sodium ion batteries
  • Licheng Zhang (October 2020 - Present): Excitons and electron spin relaxation in semiconductors probed with muon spin rotation/resonance/relaxation 
  • Dr Oliver Dicks (November 2020 - Present): Structure-Function relationships in carbon anodes for sodium ion batteries

 A list of new PhD projects are available here. Please note this is not an exclusive or exhaustive list; if intersted in a project you think I might be able to supervise, please get in contact.

Past Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Dr Anders Jensen (Jan 2018 – June 2020), funded by EPSRC. Now: permanent scientist at the Danish Institute of Technology
  • Dr Koji Yokoyama (Dec 2012 – Nov 2017), Funded by ERC. Now: permanent scientist at the STFC.
  • Dr S. Zhang (Jan 2012 – April 2012), funded by EPSRC. Now: full professor of physics, Sichuan University.
  • Dr. P Desai (July 2011 – June 2014), funded by the EU. Now: running his own optics business.
  • Dr L. Nuccio (Oct 2009 – Dec 2011), funded by EPSRC. Now: working as a quant.

Past PhD students

  • Miao Jingliang (October 2014- Sept 2018). Project: photomusr in organic and conventional semiconductors
  • Adgar Yang (from October 2015 - Sept 2019). Project: Magnetism in organic-metallic complexes
  • Prashantha Murahari (December 2012 – November 2016). Project: Electron transfer in donor-acceptor peptides.
  • Wang Ke (October 2012 – October 2016). Project: Electron dynamics in organic semiconductors. 
  • Shou Han (September 2012 – September 2016). Project: Ferroelectric and multiferroic thin film growth and characterisation. 
  • Carlos Aristizabal (September 2010 - June 2014). Project: Investigation of magnetoelectric coupling in multiferroic materials. 
  • Hongtao Zhang (September 2010 – July 2014). Project: Engineering hybrid organic/inorganic interfaces.
  • Maureen Willis (July 2009 – February 2012). Project: The role of spin-orbit coupling on electronic spin relaxation rates in the metal-hydroxyquinolates and related systems. 
  • Leander Schulz (April 2007 – September 2010). Project: Spin and charge transport in organic semiconductors. Submitted thesis in September 2010. 
  • Vivek Kumar-Malik (September 2006 - September 2009). Project: Growth of metal-oxide superlattices and associated characterisation. 
  • Justin Hoppler (May 2006 - June 2009). Project: Interaction of magnetism and superconductivity in Superconducting/ferromagnetic superlattices.



  • Changjiang Distinguished Professor (2015)
  • Talent 1000 Scholar of the Chinese Ministry of Education (2014)
  • European Research Council Fellow (2012)
  • Leverhulme Fellow (2008)
  • 1851 Fellow (2004)

Professional Activities

  • Hon. Secretary of the Institute of Physics Environmental Physics Group (2021-Present)
  • International advisor to the Indonesian Minister for Research and Technology (2021 - Present)
  • Indonesian National Research  Priorities Leader: batteries for static power storage (2021  - Present)
  • International Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Magnetism and its Applications  (2020 - Present)
  • Cofounder and Director of the Indonesian National Batteries Research Institute (2020 - Present)
  • Director of the Materials Research Institute, QMUL (2018-Present)
  • Head of the Research Centre for Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, QMUL (2016-Present)
  • Academic lead for REF 2021 UoA9 (2018-2021)
  • Hon. Secretary of the IOP Magnetism Group (2015-2019)
  • Member of the Materials and Life Sciences Advisory Panel of the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (2012-2017)
  • Member of a panel of experts on radiactive beam technology for the IAEA, Vienna, and co-signatory for a research agreement between QMUL and the IAEA on radiation damage in materials
  • Scientific advisory board member of a number of international conferences, referee of a number of articles in scientific journals, scientific referee for NIST NCNR,  American Chemical Society, EPSRC, EU H2020, and STFC Facilities Access Panel.

Academic Positions

  • 2018 - Present: Professor of Physics, School of Physics and Astronomy, QMUL
  • 2012 - 2018: Reader in Physics, School of Physics and Astronomy, QMUL
  • 2011 - 2012: Senior Lecturer, School of Physics and Astronomy, QMUL
  • 2008 - 2011: Leverhulme Fellow, Department of Physics, QMUL, UK. Additional post: Visiting Research Fellow, University of Fribourg, Switzerland (from September 2008).
  • 2006 - 2008: öberassistant (Senior scientist), Department of Physics, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Additional posts: Research Fellow of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 (until Oct 2006) & Visiting Research Fellow, Queen Mary University of London (until September 2008).
  • 2004 - 2006: Research Fellow of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. Split between: School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St. Andrews, UK; ISIS Facility, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK; and the Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland. 


  • 2000 - 2004: Ph.D. Physics, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St Andrews.
  • 1999 - 2000: M.Phil. Materials Engineering (M.Res.), University of Birmingham.
  • 1996 - 1999 2:1 B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics, University of Birmingham.