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3D Nanostructured Thermoelectric Materials

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Ladak
    Prof Gao Min
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The world’s energy consumption is reaching 16 terawatts and is predicted to triple by 2050 [1].
Meeting this huge demand along with great concerns over climate change has now led to an urgency for the development of cleaner and renewable energy sources. Thermoelectric (TE) materials are systems that can directly convert thermal waste heat into electrical energy. It has potential to make significant contribution to the development of low carbon power generation highlighted in the Clean Growth Strategy of the UK Government. In order to achieve this goal, a key challenge is to improve the efficiency of TE materials and reduce manufacture cost. The success in this endeavour will lead to wide scale applications in power generation and efficient cooling of thermoelectric technology beyond the current niche markets (example: spacepower generation and cooling laser diodes or infrared detectors). This project seeks to develop a new breed of 3D thermoelectric metamaterials that have controlled nanostructured features upon the 100 nm scale, allowing unprecedented control over electronic and phononic properties and offering a highly controlled pathway for understanding the effect of nanoscale topology.

The student working upon this project will work in the groups of Dr Sam Ladak ( and Prof Gao Min ( The project involves the manufacture of novel 3D nanostructured thermoelectric materials using two-photon lithography. The fabricated samples will be subject to standard physical characterisation such as scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. Furthermore, the electronic and thermal properties of 3D TE samples will be measured using both nanoscale scanning probe measurements and bulk transport measurements. The student will also benefit from interactions with theorists at Exeter University. Ultimately, the project will develop a new breed of TE devices with a step change in performance.

This project can be successfully completed in 3.5 years as detailed by the following plan:

Month 0 – 6: Literature review, training upon two-photon lithography (TPL) , upon pulsed laser deposition and characterisation tools.

Month 7 – 12: First fabrication of 3D thermoelectric materials using TPL and PLD. Initial physical characterisation.

Month 13 - 24: Further fabrication and investigation of contact procedures for heat conductivity measurements. Publication 1.

Month 25 – 30: Detailed investigation of heat conductivity as function of lattice parameters. Publication 2.

Month 31 – 36: Detailed investigation of electrical transport as function of lattice parameters. Publication 3.

[1] T. C. Monson, M. T. Lloyd, D. C. Olson, Y. J. Lee and J. W. P. Hsu, Adv. Mater. 20, 4755 (2008)

Funding Notes

Full UK/EU tuition fees plus stipend matching UKRI Minimum.

Full awards are open to UK Nationals and EU students who meet UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the course including for full-time education.

A small number of awards may also be made available to EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement, provided they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least three years before the start of their proposed programme of study.


G. Williams et al. Nano Res.11, 845 (2018)
S. Sahoo et al. Nanoscale 10, 9981 (2018)
J.G. Canadas et al. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 85, 043906, (2014)

How good is research at Cardiff University in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 19.50

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