MRes in Soft Electronic Materials
MRes in Soft Electronic Materials: Applications for October 2024 open now! Apply via https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/apply/postgraduate-taught/application-process/
The course covers all three research theme areas of Imperial College's Centre of Excellence in Processable Electronics, sustainable energy, sensors and wearable electronic materials and emerging technologies.
About the SEM-MRes course
Want to study with us? Check out our MRes!
If you have any questions please email the MRes science coordinator, Lisa Bushby.
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, it covers all three research theme areas of the CPE, sustainable energy, sensors and wearable electronics and emerging technologies.
This thriving area of research targets applications such as:
- Printable photovoltaics
- Light-emitting diodes
- Solar fuel production
- Wearable electronics devices
- Chiral emitters and detector
- 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.
The 12-month 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.
Please email email@example.com the MRes science co-ordinator for details of October 2024 MRes entry.
2024-25 application rounds
When applying for 2024 entry, please bear in mind the following dates for review of your application. Owing to the time it takes for ATAS visa approvals, only home students are advised to apply in the 5th round.
2 October 2023
3 November 2023
16 December 2023
4 November 2023
19 January 2024
9 March 2024
20 January 2024
29 March 2024
11 May 2024
30 March 2024
24 May 2024
27 July 2024
25 May 2024
5 July 2024
3 August 2024
Course outline in more detail
Core lecture courses
The course begins in Term 1 (October-December) with a fixed lecture programme of core courses, in adition to advanced practical courses that will continue through the year. All core lecture modules are compulsory. The material covered in these courses is examined in February.
There are two core lecture courses in Term 1:
Fundamentals of Organic and Inorganic Semiconductors and Materials Synthesis and Processing
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 be introduced.
The second half of the module will cover 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 and Device Physics and Applications
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.
The module will also 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.
Advanced and practical courses
Selected advanced practical courses and workshops could be offered throughout the year to MRes students, which include:
A distinctive feature of the MRes is the practical workshops and will include:
- Film characterisation. . In this course, most of basic and essential skills for the research students in the laboratories. It includes thickness measurement of film sample using Bruker’s Dektak Surface Profilometer, transmission and reflection measurement of thin film using Shimadzu’s UV-2600 Spectrometer, HOMO energy level measurement of ITO substrate using KP Tech’s APS (ambient-pressure photoemission spectroscopy) and PLQY of thin film using Instrument Systems’ CAS140 with integrating sphere. This course will take a day and half in the labs.
- OPV device fabrication. In this course, students will fabricate solar cells from start to finish: Substrates cleaning, deposition of hole/electron transporting layers and active layer with spin coating method and thermal evaporation of metal contact. They will then measure the devices using Newport solar simulator and extract the device parameters to investigate Current-Voltage characteristics under AM1.5G illumination. Students will prepare films for absorption, reflection and thickness characterisation.
The workshops will focus on four main areas:
- Molecular modelling
- Optical and electronic properties of materials
- Device physics
- Material structure and dynamics
The workshops will introduce students to some of the range of computational packages available for the simulation of molecular materials, including the elements of quantum chemistry calculations using Gaussian and Turbomole, molecular dynamics packages such as GROMACS, and packages for the visualisation and rendering of molecular structures. Training will consist of short lectures followed by problem solving sessions with demonstrator help available.
Transferable skills courses
Transferrable Skills Courses
A series of transferable skills courses are already included in the MRes programme. These include:
- Plagiarism Awareness
This course aims to equip students with a working knowledge of the concept of plagiarism and how to avoid it. This enables students to use and share information ethically, with academic integrity.
- Science, Research and Integrity
This is a 3-hour discussion based workshop that will help you 1) clearly define what counts as scientific fraud in its various forms, 2) critically evaluate the relationship between the demands of professional research and the motivation to commit fraud, 3) describe the moral structure of the world of scientific research, in terms of the web of obligations within which researchers have to work, 4) evaluate the moral structure of specific dilemmas you may encounter during your research career, 5) recognise some basic distinctions between differing approaches and theories of ethics, such as consequentialist, duty-based, virtue based or care ethics.
- Preparing your Literature Review
This online course will help you 1) define your literature review from your research question, 2) identify the boundaries of your literature review with reference to your research question, 3) assess the usefulness of different sources of literature, 4) employ effective reading strategies, 5) structure a literature review based on a research question.
- Preparing a PhD Proposal
This blended course will help you to 1) identify the key contents required to write a research proposal, 2) recognise the importance of having a clear structure, 3) analyse a written PhD research proposal and 4) write a draft version of the research proposal.
- Presentation Skills Workshop
This course will include two sessions: an introduction to presentations and a practical session where you will have the opportunity to present. This course aims to help you 1) identify the importance of knowing your audience and your objective, 2) recognise the importance of having a clear structure and relevant content, 3) employ various tools and techniques to communicate your message clearly and respond to questions, 4) assess the quality of presentations and provide constructive feedback.
Cohort Building Activities
Throughout the year, the course organises various social events, from welcome dinner to Summer School – a week-long programme at an outdoor study centre in the UK. The science agenda comprises of academic talks, research presentations CPE students and poster presentations from the SEM-MRes students. There is also a group project and outdoor activities. Industrial visits throughout the year are also possible, eg a tour of the National Physical Laboratory site and facilities. The CPE organises a live workshop at the Great Exhibition Road Festival offering a great opportunity for MRes students to gain valuable outreach experience.
Collaboration with NPL
The Soft Electronic Materials MRes has a close collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory whereby number of research projects offered to students are co-supervised by NPL and CPE supervisors and also through site visits to NPL facilities to learn more about the type of research carried out there and its significance.
In the first term, Journal Club is a fortnightly activity led by some of the research groups involved in the MRes where students are asked to discuss a seminal high impact paper that is circulated prior to the meeting. In the second term, students are paired and asked to find one or two interesting papers significant for their projects to discuss at the journal clubs. Senior PhD student/researcher from their groups are welcome to the sessions to help facilitate the discussions. This activity, aims to develop presentation skills, whilst encouraging scientific debate, and providing the opportunity to broaden scientific knowledge.
Students will be expected to select a project proposal in the first term following discussion with potential supervisors.
Example projects that have previously been offered to students are available via https://www.imperial.ac.uk/plastic-electronics-cdt/mres-in-soft-electronic-materials/projects/self-funded-projects/.
Find out more
Soft Electronic Materials MRes 2023-24 students