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Low cost nanostructured antimony selenide for embedded energy systems (Advert reference: RENU19/MPEE/BARRIOZ)

  • Full or part time
    Dr V Barrioz
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 08, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Increasingly, small portable/remote systems, from biosensors in medical applications to “internet of things” in urban environments, require sustainable high yield off-grid energy autonomy. Design flexibility and low cost materials need to be an integral part for consideration in such embedded energy systems. Photons offer a suitable and widely available source of energy, which can be efficiently collected, manipulated and guided down to sub-micron scale. Antimony Selenide (Sb2Se3) is an emerging Earth abundant material with very good photovoltaic (PV) characteristics (i.e. high optical absorption coefficient and near optimum band gap). Sb2Se3 crystals grow in ribbon-like structures resulting in 1D structures with improved carrier transport along the [001] direction, it is however reported that performance of such PV devices are limited by defects. It can be envisaged that by forming a self-assembled nanostructure array, a photonic crystal, such as using zinc oxide nanorods, light can be efficiently distributed towards a conformal extremely thin absorber with the benefit of increased collection area and reduced requirement on the electron diffusion length.

At Northumbria University, planar PV devices based on Sb2Se3 materials are routinely fabricated by thermal evaporation with ~2.8% conversion efficiency, forming a baseline device. In this project, an alternative low cost fabrication process will be developed based on hydrothermal or alternative solution based processes, to produce nanostructured materials (i.e. nanoparticles, nanowires or nanotubes). This method will ensure decoupling of the absorber materials fabrication from its conformal deposition onto non-planar substrates (e.g. pre-formed photonic crystals onto optical waveguide). Surface carrier recombination reduction will be studied through interface engineering via the deposition of monolayer oxides by ALD (e.g. TiO2 or Al2O3). To ensure high density of photons are reaching the absorber material, suitable optics and optical waveguides system will be designed. A comparison in performance will be made in a range of embedded energy system, between theoretical (e.g. COMSOL) and experimental designed prototypes.

About CDT ReNU
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. The overall aim of ReNU is to create a pipeline of highly skilled doctoral graduates in the areas of small-scale renewable and sustainable distributed energy that will drive UK productivity and innovation in the future. The scope of ReNU focuses on materials for energy conversion, storage and efficiency, while at the same time taking a whole systems view of the energy sector. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project described below 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.

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.
• Academic excellence in an appropriate subject area relevant to proposed project.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.
• The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria ( you may be entitled to a full or a partial award.

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

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference RENU19/MPEE/BARRIOZ will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 8 March 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students from the UK and EU, which covers full fees, and a full stipend*, paid for four years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa).

*Stipend available to UK students only


- G. Kartopu, D. Turkay, C. Ozcan, W. Hadibrata, P. Aurang, S. Yerci, H.E. Unalan, V. Barrioz, Y. Qu, L. Bowen, Photovoltaic performance of CdS/CdTe junctions on ZnO nanorod arrays, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 176 (2018) 100-108.

- X. Xu, Y. Qu, V. Barrioz, G. Zoppi, N.S. Beattie, Reducing series resistance in Cu2ZnSn (S, Se)4 nanoparticle ink solar cells on flexible molybdenum foil substrates, RSC Advances, 8(7) (2018) 3470-3476.

- M.A. Mutalib, N.A. Ludin, N.A.A.N. Ruzalman, V. Barrioz, S. Sepeai, M.A.M. Teridi, M.S. Su’ait, M.A. Ibrahim, K. Sopian, Progress towards highly stable and lead-free perovskite solar cells, Materials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy, 7(2) (2018) 7.

- D.A. Lamb, C.I. Underwood, V. Barrioz, R. Gwilliam, J. Hall, M.A. Baker, S.J.C. Irvine, Proton irradiation of CdTe thin film photovoltaics deposited on cerium‐doped space glass, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, 25(12) (2017) 1059-1067.

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