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Advanced polymer-nanotube composites for thermoelectric energy harvesting

   School of Engineering and Materials Science

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  Dr Oliver Fenwick  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) convert waste heat into electricity and are increasingly being employed in aerospace and industrial waste heat conversion applications. However, there are several factors holding back wider scale use of the technology including efficiency, toxicity, cost of manufacture and abundance of high-performance materials. Nonetheless, waste heat is a vast resource and improvements in this technology could bring wide-ranging benefits in meeting Net Zero targets, as well as powering devices for medical sensors, wearable electronics and the internet of things.

This PhD will develop a new generation of flexible thermoelectric generators (TEGs) which are non-toxic, made of abundant elements and cheap to manufacture. Most importantly, these TEGs will use principles of energy filtering in a polymer-carbon nanotube (CNT) composite to boost efficiencies to values not achievable in conventional materials. This will be done by careful selection of polymer-CNT combinations, alongside engineering of the nanoscale morphology of the composite. Applications of this technology will be explored in wireless sensor networks and battery charging, with a focus on vehicles and off-grid scenarios.

The project will be co-supervised by a UK research team and a French research team. The UK team has expertise in hybrid thermoelectric material characterisation and TEG device engineering, whilst the French team are expert in aligning polymer composite films and their structural characterisation.

 This project would suit a student with interest in one or more of the following areas:

  • materials processing and characterisation.
  • energy harvesting devices.
  • polymer composites.
  • carbon nanotubes.
  • electronic materials. 


The studentship arrangement will cover home tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Currently set for 2021/22 as £17,609).

The project is funded via the UK MOD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the French Defence Innovation Agency (AID).


  • Available to UK Home applicants and French Nationals only. (See: for details of UK Home status)
  • Applicant required to start in September 2022.
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).

PhD students will be expected to spend time at both the UK and French institutes (located in London and Strasbourg, respectively) over the course of the PhD. Given this, applicants should have, or be prepared to develop, strong English and French language skills.

During the PhD programme of study, the selected student will be expected to:

  • spend a minimum of 6 months at the French institute (during years 1 to 3)
  • attend an ‘Induction to Defence’ day in France which is normally held in spring each year (first year only)
  • participate in the 2-day Anglo-French PhD Conference (which alternates between UK and France in the summer each year (years 1 to 3).
  • attend a 2-day workshop in Dstl each year (organised in winter or spring) (years 1 to 3)

Please note an Offer will not be issued until a student has been approved by Dstl.

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr Oliver Fenwick

E-mail: [Email Address Removed]

Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the PhD Full-time Materials Science - Semester 1 (September Start) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Materials:

Further Guidance:

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2022 SEMS DSTL OF’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.

Funding Notes

Available to UK Home applicants and French Nationals only. (See: for details of UK Home status)
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