Accessibility statement

Keith McKenna



I was appointed as a Lecturer in the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology at the University of York in 2011, promoted to Reader in 2016 and to Professor in 2019. This followed previous appointments at Tohoku University (Japan), University College London and the University of Leeds, where I obtained my doctoral degree. My research is focused on understanding the properties of surfaces and interfaces in nanoscale and nano-structured systems though application of predictive theoretical methods.


MPhys (Leeds 2001), PhD (Leeds 2005)

Summary of expertise

  • First principles modelling of structure and electronic properties of defects (point and extended) in materials
  • Energy materials including photovoltaics and photocatalysts
  • Magnetic and spintronic materials
  • Nanoparticles and nanostructures materials

Roles in the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology

  • Translational Theme Lead - Sustainable Energy
  • Programme Leader - Maths and Physics Programme

University roles

  • Director - Centre for Energy Efficient Materials
  • Physics representative - Research Computing Working Group
  • Committee member – EPSRC Strategy Group



My research is unified under the general theme 'modelling the properties of surfaces and interfaces'.

In recent work I have focussed on nanometre sized and nano-structured systems, such as nanoparticles, nanopowders and thin film heterostructures, which possess unique properties (e.g., electronic, magnetic, optical and chemical) and have wide-ranging applications in fields such as energy, spintronics and catalysis. There is constant demand for improved functionality of these systems and theoretical modelling plays a vital role. I address these problems, in close collaboration with experiment, by developing and employing a range of multi-scale theoretical and computational techniques to model the relevant conditions (i.e. temperature and pressure) and characteristic scales (e.g. time and length) relevant to real applications.

For more information about my research, visit my personal web page.

Research group(s)

Available PhD research projects

I welcome enquiries from prospective graduate students who either have their own source of funding or who may be eligible to apply for scholarships (e.g. see funding opportunities at

School of Physics, Engineering and Technology
University of York
YO10 5DD
Tel: +44 (0)1904 322251
Fax: +44 (0)1904 322214
Web: Personal page
Room: P/A017



  • Lecturer: 'Computational Quantum Mechanics' (2011-present)
  • Lecturer: 'Mathematical Physics II' (2012)
  • Lecturer: Labview zone in second year laboratory (2011-2012)
  • Lecturer: First year Mathematics Practicals (2011-2012)

Other teaching

  • Year 3 tutor (2014)

External activities


  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics
  • Member of the IOP Theory of Condensed Matter group committee
  • Member of the UK High-End Computing Materials Chemistry Consortium


Leadership roles

  • UK Management Committee Member – COST Action CA21148 “Research and International Networking on Emerging Inorganic Chalcogenides for Photovoltaics
  • Working Group Leader - “Functional materials and devices including energy materials” in psi-k (
  • Steering Committee Member - UK (