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Designing the next generation of efficient plastic solar cells

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, July 12, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Plastic solar cells (PSCs) have the promise of transforming the ways in which we collect solar energy. PSCs can be made flexible, are light (and so are easy to transport), and benefit from cheap methods of manufacture. As such, it is expected that PSCs can significantly improve access to electricity to the nearly 1Bn people who live without reliable electrical power, as well as enabling more small-scale solar installations (such as building-integrated PV). In order to realise this potential it is necessary to increase the efficiency with which they convert solar energy to electrical power.

This project targets the development of new simulation models to better understand and design high performance PSCs. We will focus on a particular type of PSC that has shown substantial improvements in performance in the last few years, the so-called tandem PSC. These devices are essentially two PSCs stacked on top of one another to better capture the solar spectrum. However, to date, there are no tools that have enabled researchers to better understand their performance. This project would suit someone with a passion for understanding how things work and are able coders (or are keen to improve).

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 2019.

For this project you must apply through the Durham University’s online postgraduate application system by creating an account. To do this please navigate to and select ‘Apply now’ followed by ‘Apply for postgraduate study.’ When completing your application, please ensure that you note that you are applying for the appropriate ReNU project by completing the application fields as follows:

Course details
• Select ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Have you been in contact with a potential supervisor?’
• Complete the ‘intended supervisor’s name’ with ReNU/Groves
• Complete Engineering as the Department
• Select ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Have you applied, or are you going to apply for a scholarship?
• Select ‘other’ from the drop-down list under, ‘Please indicate which scholarship you have applied for’
• Complete ‘Please enter the name of the Scholarship you have applied for or will be applying for’ with ReNU/Groves
Note that it is not necessary to include a research proposal as part of your application.

The application closing date is Friday 12th July and it is planned that interviews will take place in the two weeks following.

Applicants are normally expected to have one of:
• A minimum of an upper second class honours degree from a 4-year integrated Masters undergraduate course in Physics, Electronic Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Science or a related subject.
• A 3-year undergraduate Bachelors in one of the above disciplines plus a Masters degree and/or one year experience in a relevant industry.
We particularly encourage UK applications from those traditionally under-represented in STEM subjects, such as women and mature students.

Funding Notes

The studentship and covers tuition fees and an annual living allowance of £15,009 (at the 2019/20 Home/EU rate) and significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges). Please note that EU students must meet UKRI eligibility criteria (View Website) and that studentships will not cover tuition fees for overseas fees status students. Note that up to 4 offers of a PhD place will be made for the 6 ReNU CDT projects advertised by Durham University.

How good is research at Durham University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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