Thin film cadmium telluride (CdTe) is the most important thin film photovoltaic technology with annual module production now approaching 8 GW. Manufacturing of CdTe solar modules is a comparatively simple and a relatively quick process resulting in lower costs of production. Module efficiency can now be greater than 19 % and this exceeds the efficiency of polycrystalline silicon solar panels. Currently, the champion conversion efficiency achieved from a CdTe solar cell in a research environment is 22.1%. However the theoretical maximum efficiency according to the Shockley-Queisser limit is 30 % and this discrepancy is often attributed to the nature of the polycrystalline absorber.
This PhD project is an interdisciplinary project which will use advanced materials modelling techniques to guide an associated experimental programme with the intention of increasing the efficiency of CdTe solar cells from its current optimum value of 21%.
The methodology will use numerical quantum mechanics, molecular dynamics and extended time scale techniques. The project will utilise high performance computing systems at Loughborough and nationally in the UK to investigate equilibrium and dynamic evolution of systems of atoms over a range of time and length scales. Multiscale modelling using these techniques will allow direct comparison with experimental work being carried out in the Centre of Renewal Energy and Solalr Technology (CREST) at Loughborough.
Expertise in numerical and computational methods such as DFT and/or Molecular Dynamics and a willingness to become competent with parallel computing techniques is an essential requirement for this project.
The successful applicant should have a good honours degree, in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics or Computer Science, preferably from a UK/EU university. Good communication skills and a willingness to interact with workers in other disciplines and the research group are essential. The project may also involve travelling both nationally in the UK and internationally.
Start date: July 2020
Full-time (3 years)
Fee band: Band RA (UK/EU: TBC; international: £17,200)