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EPSRC DTP studentship: Colloidal Quantum Dots for Visible-Light Communications

   Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy

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  Dr BH Hou, Prof Peter Smowton, Dr S Leoni  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The evolution of consumer electronics, mobile communications and advanced computing technologies is leading to an exponential increase in end-user data requirements. This rapid growth in data traffic brings a great challenge to fulfil the capacity demands for the current optical communication industry. Visible-light Communication (VLC) systems utilise visible light for data communications that occupy the spectrum from 380 nm to 750 nm, which is considered as a promising technology for future data communication. Solution-processed quantum dot light-emitting diodes (QLEDs) represent a hallmark breakthrough in LEDs, as can be seen from the newly launched QD HDTVs. Given the enormous potential of QLEDs, it would be reasonable to presume that there is considerable potential for QLEDs as a light source for VLC. Remarkably, QLEDs combine the material properties of monolithic grown compound semiconductor LEDs (indium gallium nitride-InGaN, micro-LEDs-μLEDs for example), as well as unrivalled broad spectral tunability, mechanical foldability and low-cost processability, making them a promising candidate for such applications. The low-cost processability is a key differentiator from conventional compound semiconductor LEDs which are difficult and expensive to deploy in large-area highly integrated data communication systems. However, the limited optical bandwidth and toxic composition (Cd, Pb) have been recognised as the bottleneck for QLEDs VLC applications.

We would like to work with an enthusiastic PhD student to develop a deep understanding of the factors which are crucial for growing non-toxic QDs (such as indium gallium phosphide (InGaP), copper indium sulphide (CuInS2)) as well as QDs ensemble films for high-speed QLED optical data communications. At the end of their PhD, they should be able to produce high-quality QDs and QLEDs as well as contribute solutions to QLED optical communication challenges. Development of new materials growth method and LED device structural innovations to study these effects will be encouraged as part of the student’s research and is an area for high-impact publication. This is not only a transdisciplinary project, but it also intends to foster a broader understanding of quantum materials and device manufacturing, which is fit for current challenges in semiconducting technologies, from portable electronics to quantum computers based on quantum materials.

This project will be based in the UK and European leading compound semiconductor research centre—The Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) and the School of Physics and Astronomy, Cardiff University. The student will gain fundamental knowledge in nanocrystal growth, semiconductor physics and electronic engineering experience, as well as practical experiences in solution-processed nanocrystal growth, using cleanroom facilities, materials simulations and electron microscopies. Equipped with these skills, the student will be highly competitive and sought after both in industry and academia.

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) in Electronic Engineering, Physics, Chemistry or Materials Science and should have an interest in QLED based optical communication. Research experience in colloidal QD synthesis and LEDs, organic LEDs, perovskite LEDs and optical communication would be preferred. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

How to Apply:

Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University webpages ( including:

• an upload of your CV

• a personal statement/covering letter

• two references

• Current academic transcripts

Applicants should select Doctor of Philosophy, 3.5 years programme, with a start date of October 2021.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from EPRSC DTP. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend an interview in February/March.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent).

This application may be closed prior to the advertised deadline date should sufficient applications be received.

Funding Notes

The studentship includes fees, stipend and RTSG. The stipend and fees are at the UKRI rate (for 2020/21 is £15,285; £4,407 respectively).

There have been recent changes to UKRI eligibility. Studentships are available for Home and International students, with up to 30% of studentships being available for international applicants. Cardiff University is pleased to announce that it will be offering International fee discounts for successful UKRI applicants. The fees will be discounted to the home fees level. Successful applicants will receive a fully-funded studentship and will not be charged the international fee difference.


J. Mater. Chem. C, 2020,8, 10676-10695.
Nat Commun 11, 1171 (2020).
Nat Electron 3, 156–164 (2020).

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