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Transparent silver electrodes for clean and renewable electricity generation and storage (Advert Reference: SF19/EE/MPEE/ZOPPI)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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Dr G Zoppi , Dr V Barrioz Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Functional layers such as transparent conductive oxides can offer excellent electrical and optical properties in electronic devices (touch screens, LCDs etc). The material of choice is indium doped tin oxide (ITO). However, there is a dilemma that, when the film thickness is reduced to increase transmittance, the surface resistance increases and conductivity deteriorates. Furthermore, indium is subject to large market price volatility and ITO cannot be used on flexible plastics substrates, as it is brittle and requires high processing temperature.
A new alternative is transparent conductors, which use a mesh, extremely thin layers, nanowires or nanoparticles of metal to provide a highly transparent and conductive electrode. Silver is the most conductive metal and is about 100 times cheaper than indium. A layer of silver becomes transparent once the thickness is less than 30 nm, enabling them to be used as transparent conductive films that simultaneously realize high conductivity and high transmittance.

This project offers two strands of research on transparent conductors (TC) for a candidate with exceptional practical skills and desire to focus on experimental material science. The first area of focus will be to develop multilayer stacks of metal oxides/silver/metal oxides while a second focus will be Ag nanowires/nanoparticles TC solutions. In both cases, the aim is to develop durable electrodes for flexible renewable energy applications with high conductivity and transparency. You will join a dynamic team of academic staff, research fellows and PhD students and be part the North East Centre for Energy Materials.

Relevant literature:
• Criteria for choosing transparent conductors, https://doi.org/10.1557/mrs2000.151
• Silver nanowires / nanoparticles for flexible transparent conductive films https://www.nature.com/articles/srep16371
• Ultrathin Ag films for high performance oxide-metal-oxide flexible transparent electrodes https://doi.org\10.1038/srep44576

This project is supervised by Dr. Guillaume Zoppi.

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.

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. SF19/EE/MPEE/ZOPPI) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2020 or 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project.


Solution processing route to Na incorporation in CZTSSe nanoparticle ink solar cells on foil substrate, Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics 30 (2019), 7883-7889

Photovoltaic performance of CdS/CdTe junctions on ZnO nanorod arrays, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 176 (2018), 100-108

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