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Experimental discovery of new lead-free Photovoltaic Materials

Department of Chemistry

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Prof M J Rosseinsky , Dr J Claridge No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

New inorganic materials are needed to advance technologies such as batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage, and to develop basic science. This PhD project is an exciting opportunity for the experimental synthesis and detailed characterisation of new inorganic solids. The project will combine synthetic solid-state chemistry, advanced structural analysis (crystallography) and measurement of physical properties, with the opportunity to focus on one or more of these aspects during the project. The project will concentrate on materials for next-generation solar energy technologies.

Solar energy harvesting will be key to future society, which creates a need for new materials that are better performing and more easily deployed. This project aims to discover new solar absorber materials to overcome the stability, sustainability and toxicity issues surrounding current hybrid perovskite materials, such as methyl ammonium lead triiodide. We have recently synthesised and characterised AgBiI4,4 which shows optical properties suitable for solar absorbers and illustrates the potential of lead-free materials in this field. This project will involve the synthesis of new materials containing key structural features known to be important in optimising solar absorber behaviour, such as close-packed halide lattices, through the exploration of the halide and chalcogenide chemistry of closed-shell earth-abundant elements in place of silver. The materials will be synthesised using air-sensitive techniques and solution processing and be characterised by X-ray diffraction (laboratory and synchrotron) and optical and electronic spectroscopy. Promising materials will be processed into simple photovoltaic devices with our collaborators to relate properties and performance with structure and composition.
You will work closely with a strong team of computational and experimental material chemists working together in the discovery of new materials. The student will be part of the £8.6 million EPSRC Programme Grant in Integration of Computation and Experiment for Accelerated Materials Discovery, and based in the newly-opened Materials Innovation Factory ( at the University of Liverpool. As well as obtaining knowledge and experience in materials synthesis and crystallographic techniques, the student will develop skills in teamwork and scientific communication, as computational and experimental researchers within the team work closely together. There are extensive opportunities to use synchrotron X-ray and neutron scattering facilities.

Applications are welcomed from students with a 2:1 or higher master’s degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, or Materials Science, particularly those with some of the skills directly relevant to the project outlined above.

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Funding Notes

EPSRC eligibility
Please refer to the EPSRC website View Website

The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant is £15,009 pa for 2019-20, with the possibility of an increase for 2020/21.

GTA eligibility (EU or non-EU students only)
Depending on the successful applicant this studentship would include a commitment to work up to 77 hours per academic year to help with teaching-related activities. 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.


1. Sansom, H. C.; Whitehead, G. F. S.; Dyer, M. S.; Zanella, M.; Manning, T. D.; Pitcher, M. J.; Whittles, T. J.; Dhanak, V. R.; Alaria, J.; Claridge, J. B.; Rosseinsky, M. J., AgBiI4 as a Lead-Free Solar Absorber with Potential Application in Photovoltaics. Chem. Mater. 2017, 29 (4), 1538-1549.
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