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Development of graphene-based functional interlayers for efficient, stable and inexpensive next generation photovoltaics

Project Description

Solar energy is regarded as the cleanest and most reliable energy resource, offering unlimited potential in decarbonising our future energy supply and addressing key societal challenges such as global energy shortage and climate change.
Recently, there has been rapid progress in the development of high performance perovskite solar cells based on solution processed perovskite semiconductors, capable of converting sunlight into electricity highly efficiently. This technology differs from conventional photovoltaics (e.g. silicon) in that it is typically lightweight, flexible, versatile and in-expensive, making them not only a low cost alternative to conventional applications (e.g. rooftops, off-grid charging), but also opening up new applications (e.g. Internet of Things, battery-free electronics).
A critical challenge remaining to be addressed for the commercialisation of perovskite solar cells is their typically limited lifetimes, often associated with a degradation of the light absorbing materials triggered by exposures to environmental oxygen and humidity. This 3.5 year PhD project will address this challenge through the development of solution processed, low defect, transparent and upscalable functional interlayers based on graphene thin films for use in perovskite solar cells. The aim of this project is to combine the unique advantages of graphene of 1) high charge carrier mobility, 2) good upscalability and 3) barrier effect for water and oxygen ingress to significantly enhance the stability of encapsulation-free perovskite solar cells without compromising solar cell efficiency. This project will directly build upon the advanced research expertise and facilities already established at Cardiff University in graphene and perovskite solar cell research, comprising three key tasks of 1) fabrication of 50-100nm graphene thin films using solution processing methods (e.g. spin coating and printing), 2) integration of graphene thin films into benchmark perovskite solar cells and 3) water/oxygen ingress and stability studies of perovskite solar cells employing graphene interlayers compared to reference cells.


You should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.

Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a master’s degree. Applicants with a minimum Upper Second Class degree and significant relevant non-academic experience are encouraged to apply.

Funding Notes

Full awards, including the Tuition fee and maintenance stipend (Approx. £14,777 in 2018/19), are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education.


Applications should be made online at:

Please note the following when completing your online application:

The Programme name is Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering with an October 2019 start date.

In the "Research proposal and Funding" section of your application, please specify the project title, supervisors of the project and copy the project description in the text box provided.

Please select “No, I am not self-funding my research” when asked whether you are self-funding your research.

Please quote “project ID” when asked "Please provide the name of the funding you are applying for".

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