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Bismuth-chalcohalide solar cells (Ref: RENU20/EE/MPEE/TIWARI)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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Dr D Tiwari , Dr G Zoppi No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU)is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2020.

Integration of photovoltaics with buildings, infrastructure, automobiles or electronics i.e. system-integrated photovoltaics (SIPV) is one of the fastest-growing energy sectors with a cumulative annual growth rate of 15% predicted for the next 5 years. SIPV requires new systems and devices featuring versatile materials that can be adapted to different substrates, low-cost and non-toxic elements. Amongst marketed technologies, thin-film solar cells (TFSC) are better suited for SIPV because of their strong light-absorbing properties and possibility of processing using low-temperature and solution-based methods. Though currently these are based on Cd-containing materials or rare elements such as In and Ga.

The aim of this project is to assemble thin-film solar cells employing Bi(SxSe1-x)I as an absorber layer. Chalcohalides materials are generating a lot of attention in the photovoltaic (PV) field due to their unusual electronic structure which can result in high carrier mobilities, diffusion lengths and lifetime, therefore high-performance solar cells. Although these materials have been studied in the context of photoconductivity, ferroelectricity and pyroelectricity, the recognition of Bi-chalcohalide as a potential PV absorber is quite recent. Thus, developing this work further as a PhD subject is a timely opportunity. Systematic work on the development of these solar cells for understanding and optimisation of carrier transport in the device will be crucial and decisive.

The project will enable the researcher to design, fabricate and tune new semiconductor materials and device architectures. They will acquire highly transferable skills over a variety of material and solar cell processing, characterisation techniques, used day in and out in academic and industrial labs working on the highly cross-disciplinary area of optoelectronics including X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, UV/Vis/NIR, PL, photoelectron and Raman spectroscopy, and electrical measurements such as resistivity, photocurrent and impedance spectroscopy.

This project is supervised by Dr. Devendra Tiwari. For informal queries about the project, please contact [Email Address Removed].

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 1st Class (Hons) or 2:1; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above) in an appropriate subject area.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

The application closing date is 15 July 2020 and interviews will take place in late July. Please note that interviews, should they be arranged, will be online rather than in person due to COVID-19.

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RENU20/.....) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship covers full fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rates (for 2019/20, this was £15,009 pa). Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).

Note that up to 1 offer of a PhD place will be made for the ReNU CDT projects advertised by Northumbria University.
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