Andrew Briggs

  • Professor of Nanomaterials, University of Oxford
  • Fellow, St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford


His research interests focus on nanomaterials for quantum technologies and their incorporation into practical devices. He uses similar techniques for experimental tests of the boundaries of non-classical behaviour in materials. Current scientific results from his laboratory include using machine learning for tuning quantum devices, for which the full paper can be found here, and using single-electron transport to cause nanomechanical oscillations, for which the full paper can be found here. He is Governing Body Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford, Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society, Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion, and Member of Academia Europaea. From 2002-2009, he directed the UK Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration in Quantum Information Processing. Since 2010 he has directed the services provided by the University of Oxford for Templeton World Charity Foundation. He has more than 600 publications, with over 25,000 citations. His recent books for a general readership include The Penultimate Curiosity: How science swims in the slipstream of ultimate questions (with Roger Wagner, 2016 OUP), for which there is a documentary film and study guide;  It Keeps Me Seeking (with Hans Halvorson and Andrew Steane, 2018 OUP); and the six-book series for children, The Curious Science Quest (with Julia Golding and Roger Wagner, 2018-9 Lion Hudson).

Academic biography

Research topics

1.  Research in my laboratory focusses on quantum control in small structures. For example, we can take a single molecule, attach two wires to it, and connect it across a gap about 2 billionths of a metre wide in a layer of carbon one atom thick. We can then study how electricity flows through the molecule one electron at a time. We can measure vibrations in a tube of carbon atoms about 1/50,000 the diameter of a human hair, and see how the nineteenth century laws of thermodynamics developed for steam engines apply to such a tiny structure. We use machine learning (the fastest moving topic in AI) to take real time decisions in the lab about what to measure next and to perform the experiments faster and better than a human can. See

2.      How do we combine scientific insight and spiritual wisdom in promoting human flourishing? This is the subject of my next book with Michael Reiss, Human Flourishing: Scientific insight and spiritual wisdom in uncertain times, to be published in 2021 by Oxford University Press. It is one thing to write about flourishing, it is another to make it happen.

3.      How do we equip church leaders for courageous and confident leadership in issues involving science, embracing science as a God-given resource for the life of faith, and offering the wisdom of faith to the impact of science? This is the vision for a new science initiative specifically in the worldwide Anglican Communion. There will be needs and opportunities for engagement with bishops by members of the Global Faculty Initiative.

4.      How does the industrialisation of machine learning call for a combination of digital governance and individual virtue? (See Citizenship in a Networked Age and my blog What does it mean to be human in a machine learning age?)