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Luminescent downshifting silicon quantum dots in photovoltaic devices (KAPLANIEU19SCID)

Project Description

The worldwide deployment of photovoltaics follows an exponential growth, with crystalline silicon modules the dominant technology in the PV market. Alongside research efforts in third generation photovoltaics through fabrication of novel materials with promising efficiencies, there is an ongoing effort in improving the power conversion efficiency of established solar cell technologies. A promising development in recent years is the application of nanostructures with photo-luminescent downshifting or upconversion characteristics in existing or emerging solar cell technologies to allow more efficient harvesting of photons in the low or high energy regions of the solar spectrum [1]. The improvement in solar cell efficiency with the application of silicon (Si) quantum dots (QDs) with downshifting photo-luminescent characteristics in crystalline silicon solar cells has been investigated in [2,3], however several challenges remain when considering the scalability and lifelong performance of the devices.

This PhD project will investigate the incorporation of Si-QDs with downshifting photo-luminescent characteristics in multi-crystalline silicon solar cells, which exhibit poor external quantum efficiency at wavelengths below 500nm, and address spectral and thermalization losses. The optimum thickness of the QD layer will be investigated and the optical coupling with the solar cell will be optimized considering device scalability. The use of polymer encapsulation material as host will be examined along with linked degradation issues. The project will be based in Engineering and involve modelling, optical and electrical characterization of the photovoltaic device and collaboration with the School of Chemistry for the synthesis of the nanoparticles.

Applicants must have a 1st or 2.1 (or equivalent) undergraduate degree in Physics, Electrical/Electronic/ Mechanical/ Energy Engineering or related discipline. An MSc degree in one of these subject areas is desirable but not necessary. Experience in a computer programming language is essential and previous experimental work with solar cells or nanocoatings is desirable.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:
The type of programme: PhD
The start date of the project: OCT 2019
Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree in Physics, Electrical/Electronic, Mechanical, Energy or Chemical Engineering or related discipline and minimum entry requirements is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is funded by the Faculty of Science for 3 years. Funding is available to UK/EU applicants and comprises home/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,009. Overseas applicants may apply but they are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (which for 2019-20 are detailed on the University’s fees pages at View Website . Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual increase).


[1] B. McKenna, R.C. Evans (2017). Towards efficient spectral converters through materials design for luminescent solar devices. Advanced Materials 2017, 1606491, 1-23.
[2] X. Pi, Q. Li, D. Li, D. Yang (2011). Spin-coating silicon-quantum-dot ink to improve solar cell efficiency. Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells 95, 2941-5.
[3] R. Lopez-Delgado, H.J. Higuera-Valenzuela, A. Zazueta-Raynaud, A. Ramos-Carrazco, J.E. Pelayo et al. (2018). Solar cell efficiency improvement employing down-shifting silicon quantum dots. Microsyst. Technol. 24, 495-502.

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