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Fluorotonix: Developing fluorescence standards to discover the organic light-emitting diode and organic photovoltaic materials of the future (RENU21/EE/MPEE/ETHERINGTON)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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Dr M Etherington No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Newcastle United Kingdom Optical Physics Organic Chemistry Engineering Materials Science Physics Physical Chemistry Solid State Physics

About the Project

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU)is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2021.

Do you want to help discover the next generation of materials used in phone screens or solar cells?

Project Outline

This PhD project will use techniques and knowledge from chemistry, physics and materials science to characterise the photonic properties of new organic light-emitting salts for use as fluorescence standards. These standards provide a more robust way to identify and characterise the next generation of materials for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) and organic photovoltaic (OPV) applications. Working with an interdisciplinary team, the student will characterise the compounds using absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy techniques that probe the excited states processes of these organic compounds. The behaviour of the compounds will be explored across both solution and the solid-state to reflect the versatility of use of these newly created molecules. The project sits on the interface between chemistry and physics and is suited to students with diverse expertise across the natural sciences.


Nearly 20% of the world’s energy use is utilised in lighting and displays. Developing new materials for OLED and OPV applications will both help reduce this usage and provide renewable means of energy generation. New OLED materials will help reduce energy consumption of modern electronic devices impacting the overall energy use but also provide longer battery life and other secondary benefits to the consumer. New OPV compounds will provide more diverse ways in which to produce new solar cell devices. Understanding the radiative and non-radiative pathways in both sets of materials is crucial to identifying new efficient systems. One important property that helps with this is photoluminescence quantum yield. However, to measure this you need a series of calibrated tools and model compounds (standards). Just as important as the materials themselves are the standards and techniques to measure them and it is these what this project seeks to develop.

This project is supervised by Dr Marc Etherington. For informal queries, please contact [Email Address Removed]

The application closing date is 7 February 2021 and we will aim to have the interviews take place in early March. Please note that interviews, should they be arranged, will be online rather than in person due to COVID-19.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note that applications must include all of the following to be considered:

  1. A research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), and include the advert reference (e.g. ReNU21/…).
  2. You must upload with your application at least 2 reference letters

Deadline for applications: 7 February 2021

Start Date: 1 October 2021

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

* please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or

• have settled status, or

• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or

• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.

Funding Notes

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students, and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2020/21, this was £15,285 pa) and full tuition fees. Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges). 

We have a limited number of International awards available.   Note that up to 6 offers of a PhD place will be made for the ReNU CDT projects advertised by Northumbria University.

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