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Discovery of new transparent conducting materials

Project Description

This project aims to develop new transparent conducting materials for optoelectronic applications on glass. Currently used fluorine doped tin oxide is approaching its technological limitations and new materials are required to maintain the pace of efficiency and performance improvements in thin film PV devices, energy saving glazing and electronic displays and lighting. A current project sponsored by NSG Group is using computational methods to predict the composition and structure of new transparent conducting materials and this PhD studentship will be complementary to this existing project. Depending on the skills of the candidate, there are opportunities for experimental or computational approaches, so this position would suit candidates from a wide range of backgrounds.

The PhD could take one of two routes depending on the skills and interests of the candidate; either:
Experimental: using the outputs of the computational prediction study mentioned above the student will attempt the synthesis, thin film deposition and property measurements of the materials. Bulk synthesis of the material will be followed by pulsed laser deposition (PLD) to prepare high quality films on single crystal and glass substrates for characterisation and property measurements. Further development will employ other thin film deposition methods suitable for large-scale production on glass substrates e.g. chemical vapour deposition, magnetron sputtering, spray pyrolysis etc. in collaboration with NSG Group and will require use of the laboratories at the NSG Group Technical Centre at Lathom, Lancashire. There are extensive opportunities to use synchrotron X-ray and neutron scattering facilities.
Data mining and machine learning: the project will develop methods for searching databases of known materials that display transparent conducting properties that have not been explored for this application, Machine Learning techniques will also be applied to databases of materials properties to allow the discovery of new materials with transparent conducting properties
As well as obtaining knowledge and experience in materials synthesis and crystallographic techniques or computational chemistry methods, the student will develop skills in teamwork and scientific communication as computational and experimental researchers within the team work closely together.

These projects form part of the Doctoral Training Centre for Next-Generation Materials Chemistry The University of Liverpool is offering 8 Ph.D positions starting October 2019 in a new Centre that will deliver a new cross-disciplinary approach to materials chemistry research. The Centre will train PhD graduates at the interface of physical science, AI, data science, and robotics to create the leaders in data-enabled science that UK industry and academia requires to deliver R&D 4.0. We seek applicants with a strong undergraduate background in chemistry, computer science, engineering, physics, mathematics or materials science for these posts.

The 42 month Ph.D projects will tackle multidisciplinary problems which are co-defined by industrial partners, working with University of Liverpool academics in the physical sciences, computer science, and engineering, with supervisory teams spanning the range of disciplines required to tackle the research problems. Core training in robotics, automation and data science will form part of a unifying curriculum, together with leadership and entrepreneurship training, to underpin the individual research projects.

Students in the Doctoral Training Centre for Next-Generation Materials Chemistry ( will be located in the newly opened Materials Innovation Factory (MIF -, which collocates academic and industrial researchers over 4 floors, with state-of-the-art automated research capabilities, including the £3M Formulation Engine. They will benefit from the cross-disciplinary training environment of the MIF, which contains staff from Physics and Computer Science as well as Chemistry, and the well-established community around the Leverhulme Research Centre in Functional Materials Design (, which is typified by a vibrant functioning engagement between physical science and computer science. Industrial partners include Unilever, Johnson Matthey and NSG Pilkington.

Name and email address to direct enquiries to:

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Troy Manning ().
Tel. No. for Enquiries: 0151 794 3563

Please apply by completing the online postgraduate research application form here:
Please ensure you quote the following reference on your application: University of Liverpool Doctoral Training Centre in Next-Generation Materials Chemistry CDT04
Applications should be made as soon as possible.

Supervisors may be subject to change.

Funding Notes

The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant will be £15,009 pa for 2019-20. The award will pay full home/EU tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. Non-EU applicants may have to contribute to the higher non-EU overseas fee. One of the positions will have a requirement to work up to 88 hours/year in teaching-related activity in the Department of Chemistry and may be asked to teach up to 144 hours per year if required, with teaching above 88 hours being paid at the standard University demonstrator rate.


C Collins, M S Dyer, M J Pitcher, G F S Whitehead, M Zanella, P Mandal, J B Claridge, G R Darling, & M J Rosseinsky, Accelerated discovery of two crystal structure types in a complex inorganic phase field, Nature 546 (2017) 280-284

Q D Gibson, M S Dyer, G F S Whitehead, J Alaria, M J Pitcher, H J Edwards, J B Claridge, M Zanella, K Dawson, T D Manning, et al. Bi4O4Cu1.7Se2.7Cl0.3: Intergrowth of BiOCuSe and Bi2O2Se Stabilized by the Addition of a Third Anion, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 139 (2017) 15568-15571

H C Sansom, G F S Whitehead, M S Dyer, M Zanella, T D Manning, M J Pitcher, T J Whittles, V R Dhanak, J Alaria, J B Claridge, et al., AgBiI4 as a Lead-Free Solar Absorber with Potential Application in Photovoltaics, Chem. Mater. 29 (2017) 1538-1549

P Mandal, M J Pitcher, J Alaria, H Niu, P Borisov, P Stamenov, J. B. Claridge, & M J Rosseinsky, Designing switchable polarization and magnetization at room temperature in an oxide, Nature 525 (2015) 363-366

M J Pitcher, P Mandal, M S Dyer, J Alaria, P Borisov, H Niu, J B Claridge, & M J Rosseinsky, Tilt engineering of spontaneous polarization and magnetization above 300 K in a bulk layered perovskite, Science 347 (2015) 420–424

J Alaria, P Borisov, M S Dyer, T D Manning, S Lepadatu, M G Cain, E D Mishina, N E Sherstyuk, N A Ilyin, J Hadermann, D Lederman, J B Claridge, & M J Rosseinsky, Engineered spatial inversion symmetry breaking in an oxide heterostructure built from isosymmetric room-temperature magnetically ordered components, Chem. Sci. 5 (2014) 1599–1610

M S Dyer, C Collins, D Hodgeman, P A Chater, A Demont, S Romani, R Sayers, M F Thomas, J B Claridge, G R Darling, & M J Rosseinsky, Computationally Assisted Identification of Functional Inorganic Materials, Science 340 (2013) 847–852.

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