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  Defect engineering in silicon solar cells

   School of Engineering

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  Dr AnYao Liu, Prof D Macdonald  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Would you like to work in a world-class research team, in a well-equipped state-of-the-art research laboratory, and on one of the most important topics facing us in the 21st century? Come to join us at the Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Group at the Australian National University (ANU).

ANU is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world – the 2022 QS World Rankings placed ANU as the 1st in Australia and 27th in the world. Solar PV research is one of the core strengths of the ANU, having had over 40 years of strong research activities. We enjoy a world-class PV research laboratory that enables the fabrication of high-efficiency silicon solar cells. This capability is only available in a small number of PV research laboratories worldwide. You will also have access to a wide range of advanced research facilities within ANU (e.g. in Physics department, in microscopy, and etc.).

You will work in the Silicon Materials group, which is part of the ANU Solar PV group. The team has over 20 researchers and offers a collaborative, nurturing team environment. You will be directly supervised by leading experts in the field (Dr AnYao Liu, Prof Daniel Macdonald). We also have extensive collaborations with top research teams and PV manufacturers worldwide.

The project focuses on understanding and removing key defects in the silicon materials used for solar cells. The electronic quality of the silicon materials critically determines the solar cell performance. You will carry out a range of experiments to characterise the defects, reveal their properties and behaviours in silicon solar cells, and in turn devise methods to remove or treat them. You will be expected to publish high-quality journal papers and present at international conferences. The project provides a perfect training ground for a future career in materials science and engineering in academia or industry.


Prospective students graduated or expecting to graduate with degrees in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Physics, Materials Science, Applied Science, Chemistry, or related disciplines, with a GPA above 8 out of 10, or 3.5 out of 4.0, or high distinction (HD), or equivalent are invited to apply.

However, to be competitive for a scholarship, international students will need to have outstanding GPA rankings within their departments (usually the top 5%, preferably top 2%).

If you meet the HDR admission requirements (self-assessment here), please send an email directly to Dr AnYao Liu ([Email Address Removed]) with the following information:

·       Your background, experience, and research interests.

·       GPA / Result of each degree, as well as your transcript.

·       Details of any publications, along with DOI links.

·       List of any other relevant research achievements.

·       When you expect to start your PhD if successful.

Attachments: CV, academic transcripts, and an additional PDF file which includes certificates of prizes, awards, recognitions or any other supporting evidence.

Initial assessment is based on the information you provide. In case critical information (e.g. GPA results) is missing your application cannot be considered. Obvious mass application e-mails will not be considered.

We are looking forward to welcoming outstanding candidates to join our group.


We are offering to support your PhD candidacy for a competitive scholarship application at the Australian National University (ANU).

For the successful applicant, the scholarship fully covers the university tuition fees and research expenses, and provides an additional allowance to cover living costs for up to 3.5 years:

·       Living allowance: AUD$ 34,000 per year (2023 rate, increases every year), tax free

·       Tuition fee AUD$ 49,330 per year, fully covered

·       Conference travel allowance: AUD$ 6,000 during PhD and possible additional funding for travel

·       Relocation allowance

·       Dependent child allowance

·       Thesis allowance

·       Paid medical, maternity, parental leave

In case your scholarship application is unsuccessful, there may be options to provide alternative funding from research projects.

Engineering (12) Physics (29)
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