Sri Lankan scientist, Professor Ravi Silva, Director, Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey, has been awarded a CBE for his services to Science, Education and Research. A CBE which stands for Commander of the British Empire is the highest ranking Order of the British Empire award, followed by OBE and then MBE. It ranks just below a knighthood or damehood. The CBE is awarded to individuals for having a prominent role at national level, or a leading role at regional level and also for distinguished and innovative contribution to any area. Professor Silva received the award for outstanding services to Science, Education and Research over the last three decades, with contributions that extend around the world. Professor Silva has conducted major research activities in China, India and Sri Lanka as well as the UK, which have helped to elevate and translate research into useful national products.
Professor Ravi Silva is the son of the late Dr. Roland Silva, former Commissioner of Archaeology and Director-General, Central Cultural Fund, and Neela Silva. He is married to Nayanee, founder of a business consultancy and has two grown sons; Arun and Ruwan. Nayanee is the daughter of the late Gamini Iriyagolle, former Presidential Advisor and attorney-at-law; and the late Indrani Iriyagolle, renowned for her work in welfare, development and women’s rights. Professor Silva schooled at D.S. Senanayake in Colombo and completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Cambridge. He has received many international awards including: the Albert Einstein Silver Medal and Javed Husain Prize by UNESCO (2003), Royal Society Clifford Patterson Award (2011), Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) JJ Thomson Medal (2014), the Platinum medal of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (2015), and the Institute of Physics James Joule Medal and Prize (2018) for contributions to sustainable energy research. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and is currently conducting a study on the deployment of solar PV in the UK and India. In 2016 he received a President’s Award from The Government of Sri Lanka, for contributions to Sri Lanka Science and Society. His research has resulted in over 580 journal papers, with circa 21,000 citations and won grants of over £30m over the last two decades.
Professor Silva has contributed to research in the UK and abroad, utilising his specialist knowledge to support Sri Lankan industry as a founding director of the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTec) in 2008, a private- public partnership where he acts as an advisor and sits on the board of directors. Since 2005 he has worked with the National Science Foundation (NSF), Sri Lanka to establish nanotechnology as a vehicle from which to create wealth for the nation that will allow for poverty alleviation in the country. He spent a year in 2008, acting as an Advisor to the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology in Sri Lanka, and since been visiting the country on a regular basis. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in Sri Lanka.
He helped set up one of the largest carbon nanotechnology laboratories at the University of Surrey and is incredibly passionate about the contributions solar energy can make to drive the world to a Carbon net zero position. He believes that by adopting a solar energy future, solar electricity could become a free energy source within the next two decades. His research into energy materials will play a key role in next generation solar cells and energy storage. The University of Surrey is setting the standard by declaring a Carbon Zero policy by 2030, and Professor Silva is incredibly proud to be playing his part.
According to Professor Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, “Ravi is an international leading scientist in the field of material science and nanotechnology. He is a highly valued and respected academic leader at the University of Surrey and has made tremendous contribution to the University in his career over the past few decades. On behalf of the entire University community, I congratulate him on receiving this very prestigious national honour. Such an award recognises not only his contribution to his field and his impact in society globally but also brings kudos to the University of Surrey.”
Professor Silva said: “I am amazed and humbled to receive such an honour from Her Majesty at a time when the world is in such turmoil. I thank all the wonderful researchers who have worked with me in the past, those currently working with me for their amazing contributions, and the high officers of Surrey for providing such a conducive environment for research.”
Professor Ravi Silva FREng FRSA FInstP FIET CEng CPhys is a Distinguished Professor and the Director of the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and heads the interdisciplinary Nano-Electronics Centre. His research interests encompass a wide range of activities with a focus in nanotechnology and renewables. A strong electronics background combined with materials science has enabled him and his team to produce bespoke nano-scale designer materials for specific applications. He is an expert in solar cells, carbon electronics and nanotechnology and is spearheading the Carbon Neutral challenge by 2030 for the University. The ATI is a major component of the University’s research, housing state-of-the-art equipment in solid-state electronics and large area electronics. He recently set up the £4m industry-academia Nano-Manufacturing Centre and in 2019 the £1m Marcus Lee Printable Solar Cell Facility. Prof Silva is part of the €8m EU H2020 CORNET programme, establishing an open innovation platform for large area electronics with 11 European partners.