Dr Nick BennettDr Peter SzaboNeil WightEdwin AcostaJürgen SchleppiAlessandro CalviBeth LomaxJoseph GibbonsPast Members

Dr Nick Bennett

Faculty, Assistant Professor

Nick Bennett received a Master’s degree in Physics from the University of Warwick in 2004. Later in the same year he began a PhD at the University of Surrey. His research thesis investigated the effects of strain on dopants in silicon. In 2007 Nick joined Newcastle University as a Postdoctoral Researcher, continuing work on nano-scale doping of silicon- and germanium-based materials.

In 2009 he accepted a research position at Dublin City University, initially in a Postdoctoral Researcher position, before assuming a Lecturing role and leading two projects as Principal Investigator – the first on novel doping metrologies for nano-electronics/photovoltaics, and the second on silicon nano-pillars for thermoelectrics.

Since 2013 Nick has been Assistant Professor at Heriot-Watt University where he leads the Nano-Materials Lab. His research aims to enhance the electronic, optical and thermal properties of silicon-based materials for applications in energy harvesting devices, such as photovoltaic cells or thermoelectric generators. He is also a Lecturer in Renewable Energy within Heriot-Watt’s School of Engineering & Physical Sciences.

Dr Peter Szabo

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Peter Szabo is a graduated Dipl.-Wirtschaftsing.(FH) in Business Engineering and received his MSc in Renewable Energy Engineering in 2012 at Heriot-Watt University.

In 2013 he was awarded one of the distinctive Konrad-Adenauer Scholarships in Engineering to continue as a PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering. He is now holding the position of a Konrad-Adenauer Fellow.

Throughout his studies and professional life, he worked 5 years in accounting and finance and in various engineering roles in the German automotive industry where he wrote an industrial standard under the patronage of Schaeffler Technologies the VDA Band 5.2.

After the submission of his PhD thesis in 2017, with the focus on ferrohydrodynamics, he started as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Nanomaterials Lab at Heriot-Watt University. He is now researching experimental techniques for the characterisation of thermoelectric materials.


Neil Wight

Doctoral Student

Neil Wight graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1999. He subsequently worked in numerous engineering roles within the energy sector for 15 years.

In 2014 he received the MSc degree with distinction in Renewable Energy Engineering from Heriot-Watt University, and later the same year started PhD studies in the Nano-Materials Lab, under the supervision of Dr Nick Bennett and Dr Jan-Willem Bos.

His PhD studies are investigating the various methods of implementing silicon as a thermoelectric material.


Edwin Acosta

Doctoral Student

Edwin Acosta is a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University. In particular, he works in the area of materials for energy applications under the supervision of Dr Nick Bennett and Prof Brian Gerardot.

He earned his Mechanical Engineering degree from the National Polytechnic School, Ecuador in 2007. He received his Master’s degree in Renewable Energy Engineering from Heriot-Watt in 2014. His dissertation project was on the Implementation of a Photovoltaic Cavity Receiver in an Existing Tracking Solar System.

His current work focuses on low-cost thin-film technologies for energy conversion and harvesting. In particular, assessing the various methods of creating thin-films and the design and fabrication of samples. Edwin Acosta has been working within the energy sector for 8 years in numerous projects. He was selected by Senescyt in Ecuador in 2015 to be awarded a scholarship, which provides full tuition and stipend support for students to persuade post-graduate studies abroad.


Jürgen Schleppi

Doctoral Student

Jürgen Schleppi graduated with a B.Eng in Aeronautical Engineering, with a major in Space Engineering, in 2012 after working at Airbus space and defence for his final year. He received a double M.Sc. in Space Science and Instrumentation degree in 2014.

He has worked and studied at multiple universities in Germany, Sweden, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom. He prepared his Master’s thesis in Sydney, Australia, analyzing the performance of astronauts and rovers in a Mars Analogue scenario conducted in the Australian Outback. For the two subsequent years, he continued to work in the field of human space flight by working at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne in the field of Astronaut Training and Operations.

Since 2016 he is working as a Ph.D. student at Heriot Watt University. He is researching ways in which silicon solar cells, or other solar conversion devices, could be manufactured on the lunar surface utilising the raw lunar material (basaltic sand).

Alessandro Calvi

Doctoral Student

Alessandro received a MEng in Chemical and Bio-Systems Engineering from the University of Surrey in 2015. He joined Heriot-Watt University as a PhD student later that year and has been part of the Nano-Materials Lab since 2017.

His research involves the design and optimisation of nano-composite materials for use in thermoelectric devices. With core techniques such as ion-implantation and thermal annealing, Alessandro aims to enhance the viability of various materials for thermoelectric applications.

Beth Lomax

MSc by Research Student

Beth joined our team at the beginning of July. A picture and biography will appear shortly.

Joseph Gibbons

Doctoral Student

Joseph graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2013 with a First-Class BEng (Honours) Degree in Energy and Environmental Engineering. This course focused on more efficient ways of using fossil fuels, encouraging the development of alternative energy resources, while investigating and specifying the design of renewable energy developing systems using renewable and sustainable resources. His undergraduate dissertation investigated the feasibility of kite turbine technology as a renewable energy solution.

In 2017, he received an MSc in Energy at Heriot-Watt University, concentrating on aspects of energy, from the resources and their extraction to energy use, as well as energy within the environmental, social and economic context. His dissertation supported fundamental research focusing on the area of Moon-made reflectors for manned lunar exploration missions using In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU). Later the same year Joseph started Ph.D studies in the Nano-Materials Lab under the supervision of Dr Nick Bennett and Dr Gudrun Kocher. This study has begun by investigating novel photonic cooling approaches for solar photovoltaics.

Prior to commencing his Ph.D, Joseph worked as a Technical Consultant where he took the lead on technical due diligence analysis to support infrastructure investments in both low-carbon generation and energy efficiency developments. In addition, he conducted technical performance analysis, lending technical support for operational energy performance assessments.


Dr Geeta Mutta

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Geeta R. Mutta received her M.Sc. in Physics and M. Tech in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology from Vidyasagar University and Jadavpur University, respectively. In 2009 she was awarded the ‘University Gold Medal’ for securing the highest grade in M.Tech. In the same year, she has joined CIMAP-CNRS Laboratory, as a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher, and obtained her Ph.D. diploma with ‘excellent’ grade in 2012. Her Ph. D. thesis was focussed on investigating the effect of structural defects on the electrical and optical properties of Group III-V nitride materials.

Following on from this she worked as a Research Associate at the University of Bologna, continuing working on the impact of the structural defects of InGaN/GaN quantum wells based light emitting diodes on their electrical properties at the macro and micro scale. Since, March 2015, she has been working as a Research Associate at Heriot-Watt University. Her current research work at IMPEE has been focussed on synthesizing new materials for active and counter electrodes for DSSCs, using soft chemistry routes such as hydrothermal synthesis, sol-gel and spin coating techniques followed by fabrication and characterization of the DSSCs.

Her research interests include studies of functional materials at nanoscale and apply them to energy related applications; either in the form of energy conversion (Solar Cells) or savings of energy (Light Emitting Diodes).