Professor Martin Freer BSc, PhD, FInstP

Professor Martin Freer

School of Physics and Astronomy
Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI)
Director of the Energy Research Accelerator

Contact details

School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Martin Freer is a nuclear physicist, and Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute  (BEI) at the University of Birmingham. He is also Director of the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), which comprises eight internationally-renowned Midlands universities which are part of the Midlands Innovation partnership, together with the British Geological Survey.

Martin is former Director of the Birmingham Centre for Nuclear Education and Research, which he established in 2010. He has overseen the development of the BEI, helped establish Energy Capital and has co-led the establishment of the joint University of Birmingham–Fraunhofer Germany research platform. He led the development of the Birmingham Energy Innovation Hub and the co-development of Tyseley Energy Park in Birmingham.

In 2015 he co-led the BEI Commission “Doing Cold Smarter” chaired by Lord Teverson, and in 2012 he led the Policy Commission “Future of Nuclear Energy in the UK” chaired by Lord Hunt. He co-led the Policy Commission with Sir David King which saw the creation of Energy Innovation Zone in the West Midlands and in 2020 published a report on The Road to Low-Carbon Heat with the CBI chaired by Lord Billimoria.

His main research area is the study of the structure of light nuclei, using nuclear reactions. This research is performed at international facilities worldwide. In addition, he is actively engaged in promoting research and educational programmes to support the UK’s investment in nuclear power generation. He received the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Prize, Humboldt Foundation, Germany in 2004 and the Rutherford Medal (IoP) in 2010.


  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics 
  • PhD in Nuclear Physics, University of Birmingham, 1991 
  • BSc. (Hons) Maths and Physics, Aston University, 1987


Martin Freer obtained his PhD in Nuclear Physics in 1991 from the University of Birmingham.

Thereafter he worked at the Argonne National Laboratory on the heavy-ion accelerator programme (ATLAS).

In 1993 he returned to the UK as an SERC/EPSRC Advanced Fellow and then went on to become a member of the academic staff of the School of Physics and Astronomy in 1998. He is now head of Nuclear Physics and Director of the Birmingham Centre for Nuclear Education and Research and the Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI).

In recognition for his contribution to the field of nuclear clustering (the study of clusterisation in nuclear matter) he received the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Prize, Humboldt Foundation, Germany in 2004 and the Rutherford Medal (IoP) 2010.

He has served on a number of international advisory panels for both scientific facilities (GANIL, France – chair; iThemba, South Africa) and for the Finland Academy. He has also severed on the UK Nuclear Physics Grants Panel (STFC) and is chair of the Nuclear Physics Advisory Panel (STFC).


Teaching Programmes 

  • Year 1: Optics and Waves 
  • Year 2: Physics and Communication Skills 
  • Year 3: Nuclear Physics 
  • Year 3: General Physics 
  • Year 4: Nuclear Physics 
  • Year 4: Projects 
  • Postgraduate: Electronics
  • Postgraduate: Laboratories

Postgraduate supervision

PhD's in Nuclear Structure.


Research Themes 

  • Nuclear Structure and Nuclear Reactions
  • Neutrinoless Double Beta Decay

Research activity

  • Member of the R3B collaboration at FAIR, GSI, Germany

Other activities

  • Chair of the Nuclear Physics Advisory Panel 
  • Member of UK Nuclear Physics Advisory Panel 
  • Advisor to Finish Academy 
  • Chair of GANIL Programme Advisory Panel (France)
  • Previous member of the iThemba Scientific Advisory Committee


Freer M. (2010), Clusters in Nuclei, Scholarpedia, 5(6):9652. doi:10.4249/scholarpedia.9652

Freer, M., et al. (2009), 2+ excitation of the C-12 Hoyle state, Phys. Rev. C 80: 041303

Catford, W.N., Freer M., et al. (2010), Migration of Nuclear Shell Gaps Studied in the d(Ne-24, p gamma)Ne-25 Reaction, Phys. Rev. Letts. 104: 192501

Freer, M., et al., (2006) :2n: structure in 10Be, Phys. Rev. Letts. 96; 042501

Freer, M. (2007) The clustered nucleus—cluster structures in stable and unstable nuclei, Rep. Prog. Phys. 70 No 12; 2149

von Oertzen, W., Freer, M. and Kanada-En’yo Y. (2006), Nuclear clusters and nuclear molecules, Physics Reports 432; 43

Ashwood, N.I, Freer, M., et al. (2004) Helium clustering in neutron-rich Be isotopes, Lett. B 580; 129

Freer, M., et al., (1999) Exotic Molecular States in 12Be, Phys. Rev. Lett. 82; 1383

View all publications in research portal


Nuclear physics; nuclear education; nuclear power research; pure nuclear science; waste management; decommissioning; energy

Languages and other information

Martin is leading the University of Birmingham's Policy Commission on Nuclear Energy


  • Chair of the Nuclear Physics Advisory Panel
  • Member of UK Nuclear Physics Advisory Panel

Media experience