EPSRC DTP PhD studentship: Nanoscale Engineering of Semiconductor Heterostructures for Solar Fuel Device

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Main supervisor: Dr Asif Tahir (University of Exeter)

Co-supervisor:  Dr Xiaohong Li (University of Exeter)
Co-supervisor:  Dr Steve Hepplestone (University of Exeter)

Clean energy and sustainable environment are grand challenges that the world is facing, and transportable and storable fuels (chemical fuel) from renewable resources can make a vital contribution to address these challenge. Chemical fuels (solar Fuel) such as hydrogen produced from renewable resources (water and sunlight) and chemicals such as methanol, ethanol, methane and syngas by photoreduction of CO2 back to fuel can make solar energy highly distributable, from small to large scale applications. Currently most developed renewable energy sources are based on electricity generation and cannot fulfil energy transportation and storage demand. Therefore, the conversion of solar energy into chemical fuels as a vital future energy carrier is the main challenge and scientific advancement is required to provide clean energy and environment to the world.

An ideal technology for solar-to-chemical energy conversion process is artificial photosynthesis (AP), which aims to emulate natural photosynthesis using man made materials. However, it remains a significant challenge to construct an efficient AP device capa¬ble of producing solar fuels at a scale and cost that can compete with fossil fuels.

The proposed project focusses on fundamental science and technology of semiconductor band structure engineering at the nanoscale. The concept of semiconductor heterostructure nanoarchitectures is a step forward from traditional approaches used in this field. The proposed project is focused on the development of single particle heterostructure nanoarchitectures to carry out both water oxidation (O2 evolution) and reduction (H2 evolution) reactions simultaneously.

The project will focus on designing new class of perovskite Ferrite (ABO3) Heterostructure nanomaterials by combine computational simulation and experimental fabrication of novel materials. The project also aims to investigate one dimensional (1D) heating strategy (instead of traditional furnace heating) to control the nano-architectures (nanorods, nanotubes and nanowires) during fabrication. The principle strategy for surface and interface engineering at nanoscale is to control precisely the architecture and composition of heterostructure photocatalysts by hybridizing the fabrication techniques between wet chemistry, spray pyrolysis and chemical vapour deposition. The combination of three unique strategies computational design of novel material, integrated fabrication strategy and innovative control on texture by 1D heating will assure the successful outcome of this project. The multidisciplinary project is not confined to a specific system, but aims to address common challenges in semiconductor design, nanostructure controlled fabrication, band structure tuning and modification which will open new opportunities for candidate in the fields of CO2 reduction, photovoltaics, sensors, photocatalysis and thermoelectrics. 

The student will be responsible to design and fabrication of heterostructures photocatalyst by controlling the self-assembly of atoms and molecules into a novel nanostructured is required for the next-generation technologies. The student will develop a strategy for surface and interface engineering at nanoscale to control precisely the architecture and composition of heterostructure photocatalysts by hybridizing fabrication techniques between wet chemistry, spray pyrolysis and chemical vapour deposition.

During the project, student will be able to learn a range of nanomaterials characterization techniques such as XRD, AFM, SEM, TGA, UV-Vis absorption and analytical techniques such as Gas chromatography, electro-analytical techniques, cyclo-voltammetry, impedance spectroscopy, and incident photon to electron conversion efficiency. 

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South West England