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Key information

Duration: 1 year full-time
Start dateOctober 2021
Location: South Kensington
ECTS: 90 credits
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Overview

The MRes in Soft Electronic Materials is a research focussed Masters programme. It is an interdisciplinary course lasting one year focused on creating and optimising new types of electronic materials and devices for a diverse range of applications.

This thriving area of research targets applications such as:

  • Printable photovoltaics
  • Light-emitting diodes
  • Batteries
  • Solar fuel production
  • Wearable electronics devices
  • Sensors
  • Bioelectronics
  • Chiral emitters and detector
  • Spintronics
  • Neuromorphic computing

A key attraction of the field is that the materials can often be deposited from solutions enabling devices to be fabricated using printing technologies rather than traditional semiconductor fabrication techniques. 

You will cover highly multidisciplinary science during the course. It involves Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. Research activities are wide-ranging, spanning fundamental modelling of molecules and materials, their synthesis, characterisation, design and processing of devices and sensors, as well as measuring and analysing their performance for targeted applications.

We’re looking talented and enthusiastic students from diverse scientific and engineering backgrounds. 

Study programme

The course is comprised of lectures and advanced skills training, and a substantial independent research project. The lectures take place during the first term and cover the fundamentals of organic and inorganic semiconductors, material synthesis and processing, materials characterisation, as well as device physics and applications. The bulk of the course comprises an independent research project. This will involve cutting edge research which can range from theoretical to highly applied. It will culminate in the preparation of a thesis.

Centre for Doctoral Training in Plastic Electronics

The Department of Physics leads a Centre for Doctoral Training in Plastic Electronics. This aims to train and prepare doctoral scientists to move directly into this exciting, fast-moving and interdisciplinary field.

Structure

Modules shown are for the current academic year and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

Please note that the curriculum of this programme is currently being reviewed as part of a College-wide process to introduce a standardised modular structure. As a result, the content and assessment structures of this course may change for your year of entry. We therefore recommend that you check this course page before finalising your application and after submitting it as we will aim to update this page as soon as any changes are ratified by the College.

Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about changes we have made.

Structure

Core modules

There are four core modules in the first term:

Fundamentals of Organic and Inorganic Semiconductors and Optoelectronic Processes

This module will refresh the basic properties of semiconducting materials, highlighting the key similarities and differences between electronic behaviour in organic and inorganic materials. It will cover the physics of the electronic structure of pi-conjugated materials and their neutral, excited and charged states (excitons, polarons), their optical properties (absorption, emission, gain), photophysical processes, photochemistry, charge and exciton transport. This will include an introduction to the techniques used to model the electrical and optical properties of molecular materials. Aspects of other material properties such as ferroelectricity, thermoelectricity and magnetism will also be introduced.

Materials Synthesis and Processing

This module will focus on the preparation and deposition of electroactive materials including the organic, inorganic and hybrid components used in plastic electronic devices.  Such electroactive materials will include small molecular charge transport materials, sensitising dyes used in solar cells, fluorescent and phosphorescent materials as well as electroactive polymers. The key concepts of conjugation, synthesis (e.g. by Suzuki or Yamamoto coupling, living polymerisations by McCullough route) and relevant characterisation (e.g. by spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, elemental analysis, GPC, cyclic voltametry) will underpin the organic components of the module which should enable students to select molecules for specific (opto)electronic applications and to suggest functionalisation (i.e. fluorination etc.) that will optimise their physical properties. Methods to chemically and physically deposit layers of inorganic and hybrid materials such as transparent oxides, metal sulphides and solution-processable perovskites will also be considered. The key kinetic and thermodynamic concepts underlying the control of morphology, crystallisation, phase behaviour, and processing of single and multi-component systems used in devices will also be covered.

Materials Characterisation

In conjunction with the Materials and Processing module, this part of the course will introduce materials characterisation techniques relevant to assessing the microstructure and surface/interface properties of relevant electroactive materials including microscopy, X-ray diffraction, rheology and thermal analysis (including degradation). The module will also introduce steady-state and time-resolved spectroscopic techniques suitable for interrogating structural properties, excited states, and charge carriers in electroactive materials. Knowledge of these techniques should provide students with a platform to start tackling the practical problems they will encounter during their projects.

Device Physics and Applications

This module will cover the basic principles of operation and design and molecular and hybrid light emitting devices, solar cells, photodiodes, thin film transistors, polymer lasers, gain media, lighting and displays. Emerging devices classes will also be introduced including spintronic and bioelectronics devices. The module will also introduce device fabrication (including encapsulation) and device engineering for maximum performance and lifetime. Methods to evaluate and assess device performance and bottlenecks will be covered (e.g. solar cell operating efficiency, transistor transfer curves). This understanding will provide students with approaches to diagnose and rectify problems in their device designs.

Practical workshops and Research

Practical workshops

A distinctive feature of the course are the practical workshops, each one often running over several days. These tailored modules are organised in conjunction with, and frequently hosted by, our industrial partners.

The workshops may include:

  • Hybrid LED device fabrication
  • Transient non-contact probes
  • Vacuum deposition and upscaling
  • Polymer processing
  • Organic thin film and optoelectronic device fabrication & characterisation
  • OPV device fabrication
  • Molecular modelling

Independent Research Project

Students will be expected to select a research project proposal in the first term following discussion with potential supervisors. Examples of previous projects include next-generation solid-state solar thermal fuels and mechanically robust, MRI compatible bioelectronics.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Computer classes
  • Journal clubs
  • Seminars
  • Industrial visits
  • Blackboard VLE
  • Supervised project work

Assessment methods

  • Written examination
  • Coursework
  • Written report
  • Oral presentation
  • Dissertation

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis.

Admissions

Minimum academic requirement

Our minimum requirement is a 2.1 degree in physics, chemistry, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, materials science or a related subject.

International qualifications

We also accept a wide variety of international qualifications.

The academic requirement above is for applicants who hold or who are working towards a UK qualification.

For guidance see our Country Index though please note that the standards listed here are the minimum for entry to the College, and not specifically this Department.

If you have any questions about admissions and the standard required for the qualification you hold or are currently studying then please contact the relevant admissions team.

English language requirement (all applicants)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for postgraduate applicants.

How to apply

How to apply

Making an application

Apply online

All applicants must apply online.

Visit our Admissions website for details on the application process.

You can submit one application form per year of entry. You can usually choose up to two courses.

Application fee

For 2021–22 entry, we are introducing a pilot application fee for our Master's courses. This helps cover some of the administrative and staffing costs associated with processing the large volume of applications we receive.

This fee will be £80 per application and not per course. 

We will waive the fee for any applicant – Home or Overseas – who demonstrates that they are experiencing financial hardship.

Find out more about the application fee and waiver

The fee for MBA applications to Imperial College Business School is £135. There is no application processing fee for other postgraduate courses such as PhDs.

ATAS certificate (overseas candidates)

An ATAS certificate is required for all Non-EEA/Swiss nationals who require a visa to study in the UK.

To apply for an ATAS certificate online, you will need your programme details and the relevant Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) code and ‘descriptor’. For this course, these are:

CAH codeDescriptor
CAH07-01-01 molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry

Your Tier 4 visa application, or extension of stay, will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate and cannot provide one.
For further guidance on obtaining an ATAS certificate please see the information on our International Student Support website.

Tuition fees and funding

The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation.

For more information on the funding opportunities that are available, please visit our Fees and Funding website.

Tuition fees

Home rate of tuition

2021 entry

£17,250 per year

Fees are charged by year of entry to the College and not year of study.

Except where otherwise indicated, the fees for students on courses lasting more than one year will increase annually by an amount linked to inflation, including for part-time students on modular programmes. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value in April 2021 will apply to fees for the academic year 2021–2022.

Overseas rate of tuition

2021 entry

£34,250 per year

Fees are charged by year of entry to the College and not year of study.

Except where otherwise indicated, the fees for students on courses lasting more than one year will increase annually by an amount linked to inflation, including for part-time students on modular programmes. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value in April 2021 will apply to fees for the academic year 2021–2022.

Postgraduate Master's loan

If you're a UK national, or EU national with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you may be able to apply for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan from the UK government, if you meet certain criteria.

For 2020-21 entry, the maximum amount was of £11,222. The loan is not means-tested and you can choose whether to put it towards your tuition fees or living costs.

Scholarships

We offer a range of scholarships for postgraduate students to support you through your studies. Find out more about our scholarships to see what you might be eligible for.

There are a number of external organisations also offer awards for Imperial students, find out more about non-Imperial scholarships.

Accommodation and living costs

Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.

You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.

A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.

Further information

Physics

Got a question?

Loli Sanchez
T: +44 (0)20 7594 7512
E: l.sanchez@imperial.ac.uk

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