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Experimental discovery of new lead-free Photovoltaic Materials

Department of Chemistry

About the Project

This position will remain open until filled and so early applications are encouraged.

The aim is to discover new solar harvesting materials through the design and synthesis of new inorganic solids coupled with advanced structural analysis (crystallography) and physical property measurement. Recent breakthroughs in lead-based perovskites show the importance of new absorbers, but materials such as the hybrid perovskite methyl ammonium lead triiodide have unsolved problems associated with stability, sustainability and toxicity. This project builds on our recent discovery of a new family of lead-free absorbers with distinct structures. You will explore and understand the new halide and chalcogenide solid state chemistry of closed shell, non-toxic, earth abundant elements, discovering and characterising new absorbers, and thus developing a new materials approach to this problem. We collaborate closely with leading groups in condensed matter physics and device manufacture to allow rapid evaluation of the new materials in applications.

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 targetted new materials contain key structural features known to be important in optimising solar absorber behaviour, such as close-packed halide lattices. You will develop skills in materials synthesis, including air-sensitive techniques and solution processing, and in structural characterisation 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, and will participate in the selection of synthetic targets in a process that uses computational and machine learning methods together with chemical understanding. The project based in the recently-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.

Further Information:
The inorganic materials chemistry group, led by Professor Rosseinsky at the University of Liverpool (, focusses its research on the discovery of new inorganic and hybrid organic-inorganic solid state compounds. The research involves developing new capability for materials discovery, discovering and exploring the chemistry of new classes of material, and developing materials for particular applications.

We are developing a new approach to materials discovery that integrates computational chemistry and increasingly computer science (for example, machine learning methods) into the experimental synthesis programme. This has led to the synthesis of a range of novel materials with a variety of functional properties. These successes arise from a close working relationship between computational and experimental researchers within the group, which is part of the Leverhulme Centre for Functional Materials Design
(, where researchers with physical science and computer science backgrounds collaborate closely. The successful candidate will work in this cross-disciplinary environment, using their experimental skills in close collaboration with the computational expertise within the research group, to accelerate the discovery of new materials.

Coupled with our focus on new methods to discover inorganic materials and the exploration of new chemistry in the solid state, we work on a wide range of application areas, including but not limited to battery materials, transparent conductors for low-energy buildings, heterogeneous catalysis for sustainable manufacturing, thermoelectrics for waste heat recovery from industrial processes, and lead-free piezoelectric and multiferroic materials for sensing and low-energy information storage. We have extensive facilities for the characterisation of many properties related to these applications, providing an opportunity to learn many measurement and data analysis skills.

For enquiries please contact Dr Troy Manning on

To apply please visit:
Please quote Studentship Reference: CCPR002 in the Finance Section of the Application Form.

Funding Notes

The funding for this position is from an EPSRC DTP studentship. The eligibility details of both are below.

EPSRC eligibility
Applications from candidates meeting the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC are welcome – 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 £15,285 pa for 2020/21, with the possibility of an increase for 2021/22


1. J. Gamon, AJ. Perez, LAH. Jones, M. Zanella, LM. Daniels, RE. Morris, CC. Tang, TD. Veal, LJ. Hardwick, MS. Dyer, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2020) Na2Fe2OS2, a new earth abundant oxysulphide cathode material for Na-ion batteries. J. Mater. Chem. A., 8, 20553-20569.
2. QD. Gibson, TD. Manning, M. Zanella, T. Zhao, PJ. Murgatroyd, CM. Robertson, LAH. Jones, F. McBride, R. Raval, F. Cora, B. Slater, JB. Claridge, VR. Dhanak, MS. Dyer, J. Alaria, and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2020) Modular design via multiple anion chemistry of the high mobility van der Waals semiconductor Bi4O4SeCl2. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 142 (02). 847 - 856.
3. M. Li, H. Niu, J. Druce, H. Tellez, T. Ishihara, JA. Kilner, H. Gasparyan, MJ. Pitcher, W. Xu, JF. Shin, LM. Daniels, LAH. Jones, VR. Dhanak, D. Hu, M. Zanella, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2020) A CO2-Tolerant Perovskite Oxide with High Oxide Ion and Electronic Conductivity. Adv. Mater., 32 (4), 1905200
4. C. Delacotte, GFS. Whitehead, MJ. Pitcher, CM. Robertson, PM. Sharp, MS. Dyer, J. Alaria, JB. Claridge, GR. Darling, DR. Allan, G. Winter and MJ. Rosseinsky, Structure determination and crystal chemistry of large repeat mixed-layer hexaferrites. IUCrJ., 2018, 5 (6), 681-698.
5. J. Gamon, BB. Duff, MS. Dyer, C. Collins, LM. Daniels, TW. Surta, PM. Sharp, MW. Gaultois, F. Blanc, JB. Claridge, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2019) Computationally Guided Discovery of the Sulfide Li3AlS3 in the Li-Al-S Phase Field: Structure and Lithium Conductivity. Chem. Mater., 31 (23), 9699-9714.
6. ZN. Taylor, AJ. Perez, JA. Coca-Clemente, F. Braga, NE. Drewett, MJ. Pitcher, WJ. Thomas, MS. Dyer, C. Collins, M. Zanella, T. Johnson, S. Day, C. Tang, VR. Dhanak, JB. Claridge, LJ. Hardwick, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2019) Stabilization of O-O Bonds by d0 Cations in Li4+xNi1-xWO6 (0 < x < 0.25) Rock Salt Oxides as the Origin of Large Voltage Hysteresis. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 141 (18), 7333-7346
7. BT. Leube, KK. Inglis, EJ. Carrington, PM. Sharp, JF. Shin, AR. Neale, TD. Manning, MJ. Pitcher, LJ. Hardwick, MS. Dyer, F. Blanc, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky, Lithium Transport in Li4.4M0.4M′0.6S4 (M = Al3+, Ga3+, and M′ = Ge4+, Sn4+): Combined Crystallographic, Conductivity, Solid State NMR, and Computational Studies. Chem. Mater. 2018, 30 (20), 7183-7200.
8. HC. Sansom, GFS. Whitehead, MS. Dyer, M. Zanella, TD. Manning, MJ. Pitcher, TJ. Whittles, VR. Dhanak, J. Alaria, JB. Claridge, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2017) AgBiI4 as a Lead-Free Solar Absorber with Potential Application in Photovoltaics, Chem. Mater., 29 (4), 1538-1549
9. C. Collins, MS. Dyer, MJ. Pitcher, GFS. Whitehead, M. Zanella, P. Mandal, JB. Claridge, GR. Darling and MJ. Rosseinsky (2017) Accelerated discovery of two crystal structure types in a complex inorganic phase field. Nature, 546 (7657) 280 - 284.
10. LM. Daniels, SN. Savvin, MJ. Pitcher, MS. Dyer, JB. Claridge, S. Ling, B. Slater, F. Corà, J. Alaria and MJ. Rosseinsky (2017) Phonon-glass electron-crystal behaviour by A site disorder in n-type thermoelectric oxides, Energy Environ. Sci., 10 (9) 1917-1922.
11. JF. Shin, W. Xu, M. Zanella, K. Dawson, SN. Savvin, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky (2017) Self-assembled dynamic perovskite composite cathodes for intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells. Nature Energy, 2(3) 16214
12. MJ. Pitcher, P. Mandal, MS. Dyer, J. Alaria, P. Borisov, H. Niu, JB. Claridge, and MJ. Rosseinsky, Tilt engineering of spontaneous polarization and magnetization above 300 K in a bulk layered perovskite. Science 2015, 347 (6220), 420-424.
13. P. Mandal, MJ. Pitcher, J. Alaria, H. Niu, P. Borisov, P. Stamenov, JB. Claridge, and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2015) Designing switchable polarization and magnetization at room temperature in an oxide. Nature, 525 (7569). 363 – 366.

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