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Scaling up Plastic Electronics Manufacture Using Supercritical Fluid

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 10, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Plastic electronics are light-weight, conductive polymers that have been successfully incorporated into solar cells, transistors, LED’s, batteries and similar devices. At the laboratory scale, plastic electronics are carefully handmade in extremely clean conditions. Scaling up these manufacturing processes to industrially relevant throughput proves a fundamental challenge.

This project examines the potential of rapid expansion from a supercritical fluid, a relatively new fabrication route, for manufacturing high-value plastic electronics. The student will work with technicians and academics to design and build a pressure vessel for supercritical carbon dioxide. This equipment will be used to atomise a variety of conductive polymer solutions. The kinetics of phase transition during atomisation will be used to build a fundamental understanding of the processing–properties relationship. The aim of this project is to determine whether supercritical processing is viable for the large-scale manufacture of plastic electronics.

The student will learn the principles of phase behaviour for polymers and the kinetics of phase transitions, such as crystallisation. Various forms of optical and electron microscopy will be used to image the materials, x-ray and neutron scattering will quantify the structures formed. The student will experience the loop of designing, testing and improving laboratory equipment.

Funding Notes

Students with a first in chemical engineering, physics, chemistry, material engineering, electrical engineering or a related field may apply. An MEng is not required if the student can demonstrate significant laboratory experience. Qualified transfers from industry are welcome.

If English is not your first language, then you must have International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component.

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