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Fully Funded EPSRC PhD Scholarship: Equilibrium and Non-Equilibrium Behaviour in Polymer/Small-Molecule Mixtures for Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) Applications

Swansea University - Nanotechnology

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Swansea
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rate (currently £17,668 for 2022/23). Additional research expenses will also be available.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 8th December 2022
Closes: 30th January 2023

Funding providers: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Subject areas: Soft Matter (Polymer Physics)

Project description: 

Organic materials are candidates for the large-scale capture of solar radiation, due to the possibility of processing these materials in large areas at relatively low cost. Organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices fabricated from mixtures of polymers and small-molecules have achieved substantial increases in efficiency over recent years. However, the device lifetime requirements and robustness of performance for commercial viability remain a significant challenge. The control of structure and morphology within the active layers of OPV devices, during both fabrication and operation, is of key importance here. This PhD studentship aims to contribute to the fundamental understanding of polymer/small-molecule blends in thin-films, with a particular emphasis on materials for OPV applications.

Mixed amorphous domains of polymers and small-molecules are key to performance, with the proximity of domain compositions to equilibrium phases being of crucial importance with respect to device stability. This project will investigate the fundamental behaviour of model mixtures of OPV materials, with a focus on understanding (equilibrium and non-equilibrium) behaviour under thermal cycling. Experimental findings will be rationalised within the framework of existing thermodynamic theories that describe polymer and small-molecule mixtures.

This experimental project will involve collaboration with scientists and engineers at Swansea University and at other institutions in the UK and overseas. The project will involve neutron scattering experiments, that will be performed at international facilities such as ISIS, UK or ILL, France. The student will also gain experience of a range of complementary techniques, such as x-ray scattering, atomic force microscopy and optical microscopy. The studentship would be ideally suited to a graduate in physics, engineering or a related subject.

Eligibility

Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) in Engineering or similar relevant science discipline. 

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 5.5 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent. 

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.

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