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Bismuth-chalcohalide solar cells (RENU22 /EE/MPEE/TIWARI)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

   Sunday, February 06, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Newcastle United Kingdom Computational Chemistry Energy Technologies Inorganic Chemistry Nanotechnology Chemistry Materials Science Physics Semiconductors Solid State Physics

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 2022.

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 are better suited for SIPV because of their strong light-absorbing properties and the possibility of processing using low-temperature and solution-based methods.

Bismuth chalcohalide or Bi(O,S,Se)I materials have gained attention due to their PV-favourable electronic structure promising high charge-carrier mobilities, diffusion-lengths and lifetimes, which potentially can result in high-performance solar cells. We’ve recently produced a new type of thin-film solar cell using one such material namely bismuth sulpho-iodide by solution-processing (ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 2 (2019) 3878–3885). Despite setting record power-conversion efficiency, the performances are yet to match those of commercial solar-absorbers. This project aims to enable bismuth chalcohalides for SIPV by breaching double-digit efficiency through understanding and optimisation of interfaces, material properties and carrier transport.

The research will be groundbreaking through the following three key stages: (i) solution deposition of bismuth chalcohalide films, (ii) their optoelectronic and charge-transport characterisation, and (iii) design, fabrication and analysis of devices for solar photovoltaics. To achieve this, you will use a range of chemical and physical methods of materials processing and instrumental characterisation based on crystallographic, spectroscopic tools and electrical measurements. The scope of this work is interdisciplinary and can be pursued by anyone with a background in chemistry, physics or engineering. The research environment includes a dynamic team of over 15 researchers, newly refurbished laboratories and substantial investment in photovoltaic equipment.

This project is supervised by Dr Devendra Tiwari. For informal queries, please contact .

The application closing date is 6 February 2022. Please note that interviews, should they be arranged, will be online rather than in person due to COVID-19.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·      Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·      Appropriate IELTS score, if required. You can apply without proof of English Language proficiency however it is preferable that candidates have met the English Language requirements by the application deadline date.

·      Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see


Please note that applications must include all of the following to be considered:

  1. A research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), and include the advert reference (e.g. ReNU22/…).
  2. You must upload with your application at least 2 reference letters
  3. You must read our privacy notice about how we use your data and acknowledge this by including in your personal statement the following phrase : ‘ I confirm I have read and agreed to the privacy policy in https://renu.northumbria.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2021-ReNUPrivacyNotice_01_03_21.pdf.

Deadline for applications: 6 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges). 

Applicants should be aware of the following additional costs that you may incur as these are not covered by the studentship.

·      Immigration Health Surcharge https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application

·      If you need to apply for a Student Visa to enter the UK, please refer to the information on https://www.gov.uk/student-visa. It is important that you read this information very carefully as it is your responsibility to ensure that you hold the correct funds required for your visa application otherwise your visa may be refused.

·      Check what COVID-19 tests you need to take and the quarantine rules for travel to England https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19

·      Costs associated with English Language requirements which may be required for students not having completed a first degree in English, will not be borne by the CDT. Please see individual adverts for further details of the English Language requirements for the university you are applying to.

 We have a limited number of International awards available. Note that up to 5 offers of a PhD place will be made for the ReNU CDT projects advertised by Northumbria University.

* please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or

• have settled status, or

• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or

• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student. Further information about how EPSRC classifies international fee status please see Annex B of https://www.ukri.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/UKRI-170821-TrainingGrantTermsConditionsGuidance-Aug2021.pdf

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