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Water purification using solar energy captured by natural photonic crystals

About This PhD Project

Project Description

A PhD scholarship in physics is offered for experimental research into natural photonic crystals that trap solar energy and have the potential for generating steam to purify water. The successful candidate will join the world leading School of Chemical and Physical Sciences [1] at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The scholarship will provide a generous non-taxed living allowance of NZ$27,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.

The thesis will involve researching single-celled algae, diatoms, that have nanostructured silica outer cell walls. These cell walls act as photonic crystals and have the potential for generating steam from water, after suitable processing, by the selective absorption of solar energy. The single-celled diatoms will be supplied by our collaborators. Their optical characteristics, including spectral properties, will be determined and modelled using the equipment and facilities at the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and the Robinson Research Institute of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The solar to thermal energy conversion and water purification efficiency of the diatoms will also be measured.

Applicants should have a physics degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or postgraduate Diploma with high grades. We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record, a good understanding of solid state physics, optics, and able to work well in a multi-institutional team. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington and applicants should ensure that they can satisfy the English language requirements [2].

Interested applications are invited to send an email with the subject heading “PhD: Solar water purification” to Dr Gerald Smith () and Prof Grant Williams (). Please note that all applications must include:

- A full Curriculum Vitae, including your university transcripts,
- A statement detailing why you are interested in this project,
- The names of at least two people who are prepared to act as referees,
- Evidence of your English language ability,
- A clear statement about when you would expect to be able to come to New Zealand.


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