PhD Studentship: Solution Processed Nanostructured Ferroelectric Thin Films For Solar Energy Applications

Queen Mary University of London

Project Details:

This project focusses on the chemical synthesis of a range of nanostructured ferroelectric thin films and their use in solar energy applications, namely photocatalysis and photovoltaics. Ferroelectric materials have many interesting properties resulting from their permanent electrical polarisation, which can influence the behaviour of photo-excited carriers in semiconducting materials. Furthermore, in some cases ferroelectrics can directly generate a photovoltage upon illumination, known as the bulk photovoltaic effect. However, such applications of these materials have been limited as ferroelectrics are generally neither efficient photovoltaic nor photocatalytic materials. This project will therefore produce nanostructured thin films of ferroelectric materials so that they can be integrated with efficient photoactive materials, for example organo-lead-halide (“perovskite”) photovoltaics and photocatalysts such as iron oxide (Fe2O3) and bismuth vanadate (BiVO4).

From the outset the successful candidate will develop a range of chemical methods to synthesise nanostructured ferroelectric thin films, such as sol-gel and hydrothermal techniques. They will characterise these materials using the wide range of excellent characterisation facilities across the School and wider Materials Research Institute, including scanning and transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy (and piezoresponse force microscopy), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, etc. Finally, they will use these films to produce photovoltaic and/or photocatalytic devices by combining them with efficient photoactive materials, studying the interactions and final device behaviour in detail.

This project is therefore an excellent opportunity to explore a novel technological area at the interface between functional materials and renewable energy applications. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop skills ranging from chemical synthesis of nanostructures, detailed analytical techniques, and device fabrication and testing. The project would suit candidates from Physics, Chemistry or Materials Science backgrounds with knowledge of semiconducting materials and an enthusiasm for solar energy applications.

QMUL Research Studentship Details

  • Available to Home/EU Applicants only.
  • Full Time programme only
  • Applicant required to start in February 2018
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Currently set as £16,296 in 2016/17).
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language then you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
  • Please note that this studentship is only available to Home/EU Applicants. (See: for details).

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr Joe Briscoe, E-mail:

Application Method: 

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Materials Science programme (Full Time, Semester 1 start) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Further Guidance available via:

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2017 SEMS JB’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity. 

Deadline for applications: 23rd January 2018

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