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Nanoscale Materials for Energy Harvesting

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, March 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisor: Dr. Marcus Newton

Project description

The development of portable energy harvesting power sources as an alternative to batteries is an attractive prospect that will permit a new class of renewable energy devices that can operate indefinitely. We have identified a class of nanoscale perovskite materials that are ideal for device integration due to their unique properties that lead to enhanced functionality. Less is however known about the physical mechanism responsible for the enhancement and role of surface and interfacial effects within the composite device structure.

In this project, you will either focus on (1) materials simulation with our state-of-the-art High Performance Computing (HPC) systems (Iridis) or (2) device fabrication using the state-of-the-art facilities within the Southampton Nanofabrication Centre (Zepler Institute).
In the first case, you will evaluate the performance characteristics of materials for use in vibrational energy harvesting devices. This will include developing a theoretical description based on ab-initio and meta-dynamics simulations of charge transport in piezeoelectromagnetic materials functioning in a device setting. Extensions will include exploring the role of defects in nanocrystal heterojunction interfaces formed with organic conductive polymers. The outcome will be a complete modelling framework that is able to accurately predict the performance characteristics of devices for a range of configurations.

In the second case, you will focus on the fabrication and optimisation of nanostructured materials and their application to an energy harvesting device structure and materials design using x-ray imaging at the Diamond Light Source. A key theme in this project is to investigate the optimal choice of nanomaterial-polymer composite that provides the optimal energy conversion efficiency.

Applications are invited from bright and highly motivated students with a background in physics, materials science, inorganic chemistry or a related field. The successful candidates will need to be EU or UK nationals and have obtained either a First or Upper Second class degree.

If you are interested in a PhD at the forefront of nanoscale materials physics and computational modelling, want a research position in a group with a proven track record of delivering projects on time and enabling alumni to obtain onto a wide range of jobs across academia and industry, contact us immediately to find out more.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Marcus Newton. Email:

Entry Requirements
A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 March 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,009 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online here selecting “PhD Physics (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Marcus Newton under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include:
Research Proposal
Curriculum Vitae
Two reference letters
Degree Transcripts to date
Apply online:

For further information please contact:

How good is research at University of Southampton in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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