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Graphene-incorporated Gel Polymer Electrolyte Dye-sensitized Solar Cells

Project Description

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) have attracted special attention recently due to their potentially low manufacturing costs, light weight and ease of processing. The main three challenges of DSCs are: (i) a long process of four-fold layer deposition of a metal oxide, (ii) low cell efficiency and (ii) poor stability in operation. Mesoporous Ti­O2 beads, as promising features of hierarchical structures, are a good candidate for a single layer deposition of the metal oxide since they can enhance the light harvesting within the photoanode without sacrificing surface area. Gel polymer electrolytes (GPEs) are great alternative to the liquid one due to their high stability. The ambient ionic conductivities and ion transport of the gel electrolyte can also be improved using Graphene oxide (GO) due to its outstanding properties. The research plan is to develop low cost, efficient quasi-solid-state DSCs with long-term stability in operation. A new DSC device configuration will be designed by simplifying the preparation of photoanode in such a way that solely a deposition of a single layer composed of mesoporous Ti­O2 beads would be sufficient for efficient photoactive layer. Mesoporous TiO2 beads will be synthesized by a combination of two wet chemistry processes. A low-temperature processable and highly conductive GPE will be developed using a gelator agent and GO to increase device compatibility and stability. The structural and morphological properties of photoanodes will be studied by various techniques such as SEM, XRD, DRS, BET, UV-vis, etc. GPE characteristics such as diffusivity and conductivity will be measured using impedance spectroscopy. The stability of devices will be verified by directly testing the performance of the DSCs under long-term illumination and at different periods.

Essential knowledge: Materials Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering.

Desirable Knowledge: Electronics, Electrochemistry.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a UK honours degree at 1st class (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Physics, Electrical or Mechanical engineering.

Interested applicant should send an email to Dr Mohammadi with a CV and cover letter.

Funding Notes

This is a 36 month fully funded PhD position covering tuition fees and an annual stipend set at UKRI rates (2020/21 Stipend: £15,285). The candidate must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education, further guidance can be found on the EPSRC website). Applicants from EU countries other than the UK who do not comply with the residency criteria are only eligible for a fees-only PhD studentship award.

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