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New perovskite-inspired materials for renewable energy applications (Advert Reference: RDF21/EE/MPEE/LONGOGiulia)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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Dr G Longo , Dr I Forbes No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Lead-halide perovskites have recently emerged as highly efficient and low cost material for photovoltaic devices. In only 10 years from their first use in solar cells, their performances increased rapidly reaching the commercially established Si technologies. However, these perovskites suffer from two major drawbacks: the presence of toxic elements in their composition, and the poor stability in ambient conditions. The hunt for new materials that address these unwanted issues while retaining the excellent optoelectronic properties of lead-based perovskites is therefore a thrilling and prevalent thread in scientific research.

In particular, two types of lead-free perovskite compositions are currently the subject of increasing number of studies: chalcogenide perovskites and vacancy-ordered perovskites. Despite the incipient stage of the investigation of these materials, they have already shown promising optoelectronic properties that are attracting the attention of the photovoltaic community. Furthermore, the study of these compounds has the potential to find new materials for application beyond photovoltaics, such as for energy storage, light emission, sensing or detectors. Consequently, this investigation line is intrinsically multidisciplinary, offering the opportunity for numerous academic collaborations and giving an extended formation of the PGR student on different and complementary subjects.

For these reasons, the aim of this project is to scout new chalcogenide and vacancy-ordered perovskite structures to identify environmentally friendly and stable semiconductors for energy applications. To achieve this, the project will be divided in the following work-packages:

WP1: Identification of suitable compositions through calculations. Initially, ab-initio calculations will identify thermodynamic stable compounds and assess their optoelectronic properties. This first work-package will permit to select a limited number of perovskite compositions among numerous possibilities to effectively focus the efforts of the following work-packages.

WP2: Materials synthesis based on the outcomes of WP1. The most promising compounds identified from the previous work-package will be synthesised in different forms using different synthetic techniques: solid state techniques for the preparation of powders, single crystal growth methods, and thin films deposition through both solution- and vapour-based techniques. This will permit to have a wide range of samples to successfully run the following work-package.

WP3: Characterisation of the new materials. A thorough characterization of the structural, optical and electronic properties of the materials will be performed on the samples prepared in WP2. A wide range of techniques, measurements and equipment will be used during this work-package in order to assess the photo-physical properties of the new materials, and to identify the possible applications for the new compounds.

WP4: Implementation of the new materials optoelectronic devices. In this work-package the new materials will be implemented in the most suitable devices accordingly the characterisation obtained from WP3. The prepared devices will be tested and compared with the state of the art of the relevant technologies. This work-package will have a highly collaborative character and will benefit from the different areas of expertise present in the Department.

The principal supervisor for this project is Dr. Giulia Longo.

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.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.
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 (e.g. RDF21/EE/MPEE/LONGOGiulia) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 29 January 2021
Start Date: 1 October 2021
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students, and includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2020/21, this is £15,285 pa) and full tuition fees.


Recent publications by supervisors relevant to this project (optional)
[1] G. Longo; S. Mahesh; L. R. V. Buizza; A. D. Wright, A. J. Ramadan; M. Abdi-Jalebi; P. K. Nayak; L. M. Herz, H. J. Snaith; “Understanding the performance-limiting factors of Cs2AgBiBr6 Double-Perovskite Solar Cells”, ACS Energy Letters, 2020, 5, 7, 2200.

[2] L. Schade; S, Mahesh; Y. Volonakis; M. Zacharias; B. Wenger; F. Schmidt; S. V. Kesala; P. Dharmalingam; M. Abdi Jalebi; M. Lenz; F. Giustino; G. Longo; P. G. Radaelli; H. J. Snaith; “Crystallographic, optical and electronic properties of Cs2AgBi1-xInxBr6 double perovskite and understanding the fundamental photovoltaic efficiency challenges”, submitted.

[3] H. Sansom; G. Longo; A. D. Wright; L.R.V. Buizza; S. Mahesh; M. Zanella; M. Abdi-Jalebi; M. Pitcher; M. Dyer; T. Manning; R. Friend; L. M. Herz; H. J. Snaith; J. B. Claridge; M. Rosseinsky: “Discovery of stable semiconductor Cu2AgBiI6 for use on c-Si to enable lead-free tandem photovoltaics with a modelled efficiency of 30.2%”, submitted.

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