RCUK Funded PhD Studentship: Processing of Nano Copper Materials for the Production of Conductive Circuits

   School of Aerospace, Civil, Electrical, General And Mechanical Engineering

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  Dr E H Jewell  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for an RCUK funded PhD studentship in Engineering.

Project Supervisor: Dr Eifion Huw Jewell (http://www.swansea.ac.uk/staff/engineering/e.jewell/)

Dispersions of nano-metals such as copper, silver and nickel allow the production of conductive circuitry using an appropriate printing and curing/ sintering process. This additive approach to electronic circuit manufacture allows large area devices to be manufactured with minimal waste and fewer production steps. The technology has applications in a number of large area markets including PV, EM shielding, smart windows, distributed power systems and large batteries. The dominant material for printed circuitry is silver but this has a cost and resource sustainability limitations. Copper is earth abundant and has the potential to significantly reduce cost but the rapid reactivity of the nano-copper leads to oxidation, destroying the conductivity of the copper. In order to sustain conductivity the nano-copper must undergo a rapid (<1s) controlled nano-particle to bulk copper transition. In this way the kinetics of nano particle coalescence occur more rapidly than the kinetics of oxidation.

This PhD project will examine means by which nano-copper can be deposited and sintered at production speeds which are compatible with volume manufacturing. This will utilize relevant printing process (inkjet, screen and electrostatic deposition) and curing equipment (laser, NIR, UV and pulsed white light). Laboratory studies of macro changes in properties will need to be correlated to changes in the micro structure and composition of the nano-copper. The project will initially target nano-copper materials, but other technologies such as rapid reduction of copper oxide and decomposition of copper complexes may also be within scope. Having produced circuitry, there is also scope for examining the interaction between the copper circuitry and its environment or its interaction with other materials in a device, such as organic conductors.

The project is suited to a high calibre physical science (physics or chemistry) or engineering graduate who is committed to fundamental research and its application to real world problems. The successful candidate will be working within an enthusiastic team of individuals and will have access to an enviable suite of deposition and curing equipment as well as advanced characterization techniques such as SEM, TEM, WLI, XPS and XRD.

The successful candidate is expected to start their studentship on 1st October 2016.


Candidates should hold a 2:1 or above at undergraduate level in a relevant subject area, such as Engineering or Physical Sciences (Chemistry, Physics).

A commitment to publication and collaborative research is essential.

Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

Funding Notes

The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £14,296 p.a in line with standard RCUK stipend levels.

There will also be additional funds available for research expenses.
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