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Designing Plastic Solar Cells

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Plastic solar cells are an emerging technology that uses polymer semiconductors to generate electricity. Inexpensive, flexible and lightweight, plastic solar cells are easy to manufacture, but have not yet achieved broad commercialisation. Two main challenges remain: both the lifetime and efficiency of the solar cells must increase.

This project examines the fundamental causes of device failure and explores various avenues for overcoming the main challenges. Specialised surfactants, known as block copolymers, are used to fabricate ordered nanostructures that can improve the flow of electrons in a cell whilst stabilising the material against the effects of ageing. This project will quantify the performance improvement that can be achieved for plastic solar cells engineered to contain block copolymers. The aim of this work is to commercialise polymer-based sources of alternative energy.

The student will learn the principles of phase behaviour for polymers and the kinetics of phase transitions, such as crystallisation. Various forms of optical and electron microscopy will be used to image the materials, x-ray and neutron scattering will quantify the structures formed and electronic testing of the devices will characterise their performance.

Funding Notes

Students with a first in chemical engineering, physics, chemistry, material engineering, electrical engineering or a related field may apply. An MEng is not required if the student can demonstrate significant laboratory experience. Qualified transfers from industry are welcome.

If English is not your first language, then you must have International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component.

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