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Infrared Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cell for power generation and energy harvesting

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Kesaria
    Prof Gao Min
    Prof D Huffaker
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Limited energy resources and pressures of global warming require industry to reduce its net-energy or “carbon footprint”. Given that >60% of energy in manufacturing is wasted as heat has triggered interest in thermal-energy scavenging for temperatures <1000K and worldwide development of thermophotovoltaic (TPV) devices. As early as 2008, Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and EPSRC invested ~£3M creating TPV R&D consortium (Lancaster) with UK first demonstration of InAs TPVs reported in 2015 (co-author, Kesaria). However, the InAs and subsequent InSb-based devices suffer from severe temperature instabilities and require subsequent cooling rendering these devices net-energy-consuming. Recently, a new compound semiconductor, InN, has been theoretically predicted (2017, MIT) with both thermally-stable crystal structure and spectral response promising robust, un-cooled performance. To date, no diode demonstration has been reported creating a scenario for rich academic exploration/development for PhD study. In support of this studentship, Dr. Kesaria and co-supervisor Prof. Min Gao, are well-placed to explore this opportunity utilising III-N molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), ICS fabrication and Cardiff device and materials characterization facilities.

Project aims, methods, outcomes: The studentship aims to demonstrate temperature-stable TPVs with blackbody response ~1000K. The student will develop new methods to grow InN material using MBE then characterise its structure, optical properties by XRD, PL and FTIR in Ser-Cymru laboratory. Following device simulation (Sentaurus, Gao) and doping studies, a p-i-n structure is grown, fabricated into mesa diodes and characterised. Special flash-test I-Vs will check short-circuit and open-voltage enhancement in Prof Gao’s lab.

Scientific challenges: Breakthrough opportunities include doping studies (InN is intrinsically n-type), diode passivation (surface accumulation at etched-sidewalls) and InN thermally-stable TPV demonstration (first to date).

Feasibility of completion within 3.5years: The project has four stages (yr0.0-0.5)literature search, MBE, cleanroom, Sentaurus training (yr0.5-1.5)InN on Si epitaxy, doping studies, TPV modelling (yr1.5-2.5)device development; (yr2.5-3.5)device demonstrations, reporting, viva

Funding Notes

Full UK/EU tuition fees plus stipend matching UKRI Minimum.

Full awards are open to UK Nationals and EU students who meet UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the course including for full-time education.

A small number of awards may also be made available to EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement, provided they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least three years before the start of their proposed programme of study


1. Low Bandgap Mid-infrared Thermophotovoltaic Arrays based on InAs, A Krier, M. Yin, A.R.J Marshall, M. Kesaria, S. E. Krier, S. McDougall, W. Meredith, A.D. Johnson, J. Inskip, A. Scholes, Infrared Physics and Technology 73 (2015) 126.
2. Low cost stove-top thermoelectric generator for regions with unreliable electricity supply, R.Y. Nuwayhid, D M Rowe, G Min, Renewable Energy 28 (2003) 205
3. GaSb thermophotovoltaic cells grown on GaAs by molecular beam epitaxy using interfacial misfit arrays, Bor-Chau Juang, R. B. Laghumavarapu,1 Brandon J. Foggo,1 Paul J. Simmonds, A. Lin, B. Liang, D. L. Huffaker, Applied Physics Letters 106 (2015) 111101.

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 19.50

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