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Bismuth Chalcohalides for Solar Energy Conversion (RENU21-R/EE/MPEE/TIWARI)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr D Tiwari  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Newcastle United Kingdom Chemical Physics Energy Technologies Inorganic Chemistry Engineering Materials Science Physical Chemistry Solid State Physics Structural Chemistry

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 2021.

Sustainably produced hydrogen can be a carbon-free concentrated fuel and energy storage. Thereby, hydrogen has the potential to foster other discontinuous renewable sources like PV and wind power. Additionally, shifting to hydrogen can help decarbonise difficult sectors like transport and heating. Currently, however, >90% hydrogen is being produced through methods with large carbon footprint such as steam reforming. A cleaner approach being researched is of using sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen: solar water-splitting. Making solar water splitting commercially feasible requires new low-cost materials which can convert sunlight to hydrogen at high-efficiency and remain stable for long-term use. 

The project aims to develop promising new semiconductors, namely bismuth chalcohalides. These possess several desirable properties such as strong light absorption, long-lived light-generated charge carriers with fast mobilities. Further, while using environmentally benign bismuth, these materials can behave similarly to in-fashion lead hybrid perovskites in which the movement of electrons is unaffected by the presence of native point defects within the lattice. Such qualities can allow inexpensive and high-throughput processing to yield high solar-to-chemical energy conversion. However, despite their potential as solar absorbers, little work exists on bismuth-chalcohalides in the context of solar energy conversion, making this project ground-breaking in the field.

The work has three sections of (i) synthesis of bismuth chalcohalides, (ii) optoelectronic and charge transport characterisation, and (iii) design and fabrication of devices for solar photovoltaics or water splitting, followed by testing for performance and stability. This will involve chemical and physical methods of materials processing and instrumental characterisation based on crystallographic, spectroscopic tools and electrical measurements, used widely in industry and academia. This is a truly interdisciplinary project and can be pursued by anyone with a background in chemistry, physics and engineering.

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

The application closing date is 6 June 2021. 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.

• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

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 ( RENU21-R/EE/MPEE/TIWARI).
  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

Deadline for applications: 6 June 2021

Start Date: 1 October 2021

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

* 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.

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, this is £15,609 pa) and full tuition fees. Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).