EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials: Plasmonic-enhanced organic photovoltaics on textiles

University of Exeter - Departments of Physics and Astronomy, and Department of Engineering

The studentship is part of the EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2), www.exeter.ac.uk/metamaterials. Our aim is to undertake world-leading research, while training scientists and engineers with the relevant research skills and knowledge, and professional attributes for industry and academia.

Joint supervisors:  Dr Ana Neves, Prof Monica Craciun

The fast-growing field of smart textiles, with applications including wearable displays, biomedical devices and health-monitoring technology, demands energy. In this sense, textile based solar cells are becoming increasingly important, namely because they would enable energy harvesting to power other wearable electronic devices. [doi:10.3390/nano5031493] The use of organic active materials in what is called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) is a very promising route to overcome many challenges posed by device integration into textiles, since these materials are flexible, lightweight, large-area and cost-effective. However, the commercialisation of OPVs requires improvements in terms of their efficiency, and although several strategies have resulted in breaking the 10% power conversion energy threshold, there is still a lot to be done. The main limitations of OPVs are related to the low carrier mobility and small exciton diffusion lengths, inherent to the organic active materials used, which in turn limits their film thickness, and this results in insufficient photon absorption and carrier generation.

The aim of this project is to realize highly efficient OPVs integrated on textiles. In order to overcome the limitations related to organic materials, the light absorption in OPVs will be increased by using plasmonic metamaterials. This approach was shown to extend the light absorption region in OPVs and improve the efficiency of the above mentioned devices [doi:10.1002/advs.201600123]. Two approaches will be targeted for plasmonic enhancement of OPVs, making use of both localised and surface plasmon resonances: the use of nanoparticles and similar nanomaterials, and the use of nanopatterned gratings, respectively.

4-year studentship: for UK/EU students, the studentship includes tuition fees and an annual stipend equivalent to current Research Council rates; for international students (non-EU) a very small number of fees only studentships may be available

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South West England