Professor Neville Horner Fletcher

AM, PhD (Harvard), DSc (Sydney), FAA, FTSE, FAIP, FInstP, FASA, FAAS
Emeritus Professor (UNE) Visiting Fellow (ANU), Visiting Professorial Fellow (UNSW)
ANU College of Science
T: 02 6125 4406

Areas of expertise

  • Acoustics And Acoustical Devices; Waves 020301
  • Biological Physics 029901
  • Animal Physiology Systems 060603
  • Science, Technology And Engineering Curriculum And Pedagogy 130212
  • Surfaces And Structural Properties Of Condensed Matter 020406
  • Condensed Matter Physics 0204
  • Materials Engineering 0912
  • Nanotechnology 1007
  • Other Physical Sciences 0299
  • Musicology And Ethnomusicology 190409
  • Music Performance 190407

Research interests

Condensed matter physics, particularly semiconductors, ice and water; semiconductor devices; nanotechnology; cloud physics and rain making; acoustics of musical instruments; biological acoustics of animal hearing and sound production;


Born in Armidale NSW in 1930 and attended Armidale Demonstration School, Armidale High School, and New England University College (then part of Sydney University, but later to become independed as the University of New England).  Awarded Sydney University Medal in Physics and Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship at Harvard, where I gained a PhD in 1955. 

After 4 years with CSIRO Radiophysics, I returned to the University of New England and was awarded a Personal Chair in Physics in 1963, where I also spent some part-time effort as Dean of Science and Pro-ViceChancellor.  In 1983 came to Canberra as Director of the CSIRO Institute of Physical Sciences.  After retirement from CSIRO in 1995, I became a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, where I remain, and also a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the University of New South Wales. 

My research has involved semiconductor physics (materials and devices), cloud seeding for rainmaking, physics of ice, musical and biological acoustics.  I have been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1976) and of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (1987) and was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1990.  I am also a Fellow of several scientific societies. I have about 226 publications, as of 2012, and these include 9 books, the balance being scientific papers.

My other  main interest, apart from physics, is music, and I have played either flute or bassoon in several orchestras as well as giving solo recitals.  I have also taken up non-scientific writing and publishing of short stories, poems and essays.

Researcher's projects

I continue to collaborate on research projects with Prof. Rob Elliman (ANU) on nanotechnology and Prof Joe Wolfe (UNSW) on musical acoustics.  I have occasional collaborations with people in the USA on projects on biological acoustics.  My contribution to these projects is decreasing, however, as increasing age restricts my mental abilities.

Available student projects

I am sorry that i am unable to offer any student projects, though I am happy to add some advice where this is possible.

Current student projects

No current student projects and none planned.

Past student projects

I have supervised about ten PhD students at the University of New England and they have all gone on to have successful and even distinguished scientific and academic careers.  Their thesis projects extended over condensed matter physics, musical acoustics, nonlinear physics, and psychophysics.  I continued working with some of them for many years after their graduation in areas at least partially related to their thesis.


Return to top

Updated:  26 February 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers