Niraj Lal

Renewable Energy, Nanophotonics, and Science Outreach.

Research Background: PhD in physics, Gates Scholar, University of Cambridge, 2012 | BSc Hons, Angus Nicholson Scholar, Australian National University 2007

Current gigs: Visiting Fellow, ANU Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems | Principal, Australian Energy Market Operator | Project Lead, Essential System Services Workstream of the Energy Security Board Post-2025 Market Design Program | TV Presenter and Public Speaker | International Energy Agency PVPS Task 14 Australian Expert | Host, ABC Imagine This | Author, Henry the Flying Emu

Previous gigs: Long-line tuna fishing boat deckhand out of Coffs Harbour| Bicycle courier in Perth | Science Outreach Officer, Scitech, WA | ABC Top 5 Scientist Under 40 in 2016 | Principal Energy Advisor, Victorian Dept. Premier and Cabinet | ANU Renewable Energy Lecturer

Broadcasts: ABC Catalyst | ABC Kids Listen Imagine This | ABC Sciencey | Todd Sampson's Life on the Line | Dr Karl's Outrageous Acts of Science | TEDxSydney | ABC Radio National | YouTube Channel | More things below..

Henry the Flying Emu🔗


My publications span the fields of physics, energy and nanoscience, with a focus on making solar panels more efficient by using nanophotonics - tiny structures that interact crazily with light.

Including: “Essential System Services in Grids Dominated by Renewable Energy" IEEE Power and Energy Magazine 19 (5), “Dipole-field-assisted charge extraction in ... back contact solar cells" Nature Communications (8) 613; and “Perovskite Tandem Solar Cells" Advanced Energy Materials (1602761);

more research info here.


I'm a previous lecturer of the Renewable Energy course at the ANU. My favourite exam (with solutions) is here .

Learning the physics and engineering of renewable energy technologies and thinking critically about their role in the future.


I'm super passionate about Science Outreach.
On radio, including as host of ABC Kids Listen's Imagine This, on telly, in print, and through high-energy hands-on science shows. Recent gigs with the Discovery Channel and ABC TV. More info here.

Other things

Children's books

I've written two children's stories - one about chaos theory and another about an emu that learns how to fly by going into gravitational orbit.
Recently broadcast on the ABC RN Science Show, and available through this site, and at all good bookstores.

"...a gifted writer of children's stories" - Sir Richard Friend, Cavendish Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge

Political things

I'm Founder of the, a current member of the Australian Greens and previous Founding National Council Member of the Australian Wikileaks Party. More political things at my blog here. twitter @NirajNLal

“a brilliant piece of writing” – Scott Ludlam | “beautifully written” – Mary Kostakidis | “An incredibly important piece” – Giordano Nanni

Playing music

I'm founding director of the Raio de Sol Canberra Community Samba Drumming Band, former saxophonist with The Valence Band and cajon-player with the roograss band The Lazy Harrys in an expression of the future of Australian music. EP here,

External links

Critical Mass

Last friday of every month.