Please note that the projects listed below have been provided as examples. 

Students will be expected to select a project proposal during the first term following discussion with potential supervisors.

Carrier Cooling and Recombination in Mixed Lead-Halide Perovskites

In this project, the student will (i) prepare novel mixed-phase perovskite materials, (ii) characterise their optoelectronic and morphological properties and (iii) implement state-of-the-art femtosecond laser spectroscopies to measure the dynamics of carrier cooling and recombination. This is a highly interdisciplinary project which aims to guide the development of high-performance perovskite solar cells.

Finding the practical efficiency limits of mixed conducting solar cells

This project will involve using drift-diffusion simulations to assess the practical power conversion efficiency limits for this class of device, by accounting for the effect of mobile ions which fundamentally alter the electrostatics of the device. The results and insights gained will help guide the optimal design of these solar cells. The results will be validated with comparison with experimentally measured devices.

Optical Outcoupling in Circularly Polarised OLEDs

This project will investigate light outcoupling and its variation with emission angle and wavelength in the multilayer organic semiconductor stacks which make up the OLED structures. We will establish the influence of outcoupling on the glum, allowing OLEDs to find application in state-of-the-art displays. This project involves numerical modelling as well as experimental work, including thin film fabrication and various spectroscopies (Mueller Matrix ellipsometry, photoluminescence, absorption etc).

Understanding product selectivity in electrocatalytic CO2 reduction with CuO-SnO2 catalysts

The goal of this MRes project is to develop a theoretical model to help understand a change in product selectivity and compare it with the experiment. The partial coverage of CuO nanowire (NW) with SnO2 will be modelled by adsorbing a SnO2 cluster on the CuO surface. The thermodynamics and kinetics of CO2 reduction and H2 evolution on both clean and

SnO2 decorated CuO NWs will be studied from first principles and compared. Charge distribution across chemical transformations will be evaluated.

Finally, the student will have the opportunity to develop model CuO cathodes to test hypotheses and improve their model(s) of reaction pathways.

Investigate the Temperature Dependence of Energetic Losses in Organic Solar Cells (understand voltage loss)

In this project, a temperature-dependent external quantum efficiency (EQE) and open-circuit voltage measurement will be studied for a series of state of the are organic solar cell systems with different voltage loss values. The temperature dependence will be also combined with our established charge density-dependent transient optoelectronic characterisation results, aiming to provide more insights into the origin of the VOC loss in organic solar cells.

Degradation pathways in circularly polarised organic photodetectors

This project will investigate the stability of polymer – chiral small molecule blends, identify potential degradation pathways and potentially new materials.       

Near-infrared Organic Photodiodes

In this project, novel materials will be used as the electron acceptor component for OPV and OPD devices. Combined with a suite of optoelectronic measurements the project will aim to deliver high efficiency OPV devices and OPD with NIR detection as well as obtain structure-property relationships for these exciting materials.

On the Origin of Dark Current in Organic Photodetectors

In this project, different hole and electron transporting layers will be studied in OPD devices. The OPD devices will be characterised with the combination of opto-electronic measurements (current-voltage characteristics, external quantum efficiency measurements, etc.), aiming to discover the origin of dark current in OPDs.

Boosting the efficiency of tin perovskite solar cells via interface engineering

This project focuses on the design, synthesis and characterization of high efficiency stable, tin perovskite solar cells. Particular emphasis will be on layered or low-dimensional structures that have recently shown promising in terms of light harvesting and stability. A key focus of this project will be to improve device short circuit current, open circuit voltage and PCE by the implementation of novel electron and hole extraction layers.

Solar driven purification of water using plastic electronic materials

In this project, you will explore how hybrid organic – inorganic semiconductor nanocomposites can be applied to a novel application in chemical-free water purification strategies. In particular, we use this system to oxidize As(III) to As(V) for subsequent removal of this pollutant from water.

Synthesis of n-Type Polymers for Bioelectronic Applications

In this project we will utilise our recently developed methodology for post-polymerisation functionalisation to incorporate ionophilic sidechains onto electron deficient polymer backbones. The influence of the type and density of the ionophilic groups on the properties of the conjugated polymer and its ability to transport charge will be investigated.  The design of the polymer and ionophilic groups will be supported by DFT calculations.

Non-Fullerene based Organic Solar Cells – Identifying the molecular origin of energetic voltage loss

This project aims to identify the molecular origins of energetic differences at donor-acceptor interfaces to get a complete picture of voltage losses induced by energetic offset; within the context of various non-fullerene based organic solar cells. You will investigate the energetics of organic semiconductors in pure and mixed phases via combined photoemission and surface photovoltage spectroscopy techniques. Furthermore, the subtle structural differences of donor and acceptors in their pure phases compared to well-mixed interfaces will be identified by Raman spectroscopy, followed by understanding their impact on the energetics. Surface photovoltage spectroscopy to understand the quasi-fermi level splitting upon illumination and its correlation with device open circuit voltage will be a novel experimental approach in the field of organic solar cells. This project can also involve theoretical simulations of molecules in terms of energy levels and molecular structures utilizing density functional theory.

Investigating the impact of the chemical structure on the electron phonon coupling and its impact on the charge transfer processes

This project aims to study the impact of changing the chemical structure of the donor or the acceptor molecules on the reorganisation energies of the charge transfer processes. The problem will be addressed in two ways, first by studying the dynamics of charge transport within single materials, and second by studying the efficiency of charge transfer at a heterojunction as a function of material combination.

Lasing in highly-charged colloidal quantum dots devices

Recently we have been studying colloidal CdSe/CdS quantum dots, which can hold highly charged excitons. We have just observed a 210-fold increase of the emission rate from a CdSe/CdS quantum dot under bias in an electrochemical cell, which has potential for very efficient lasing. This project aims to push this result further and study lasing in highly charged quantum dots materials.

Sorted nanotubes for nanoelectronics

This project explores a new strategy to separate single-wall nanotubes exploiting new methods to create true solutions. The sorted segments may then be assembly using a unique supramolecular strategy to form function nanoelectronics junctions and devices.

Hybrid organic/inorganic semiconducting nanoparticles for solar hydrogen production

The student will synthesise a wide range of hybrid semiconducting polymer nanoparticless with different inorganic nanoparticles over a wide concentration range.  The effectiveness in hydrogen evolution will be assessed.  Once an appropriate hybrid is found, photogenerated excitons and their separation into charges will be studied spectroscopically.

Redesigning Electrochemical Interfaces in Future Batteries

This project will focus on designing a solid electrolyte based on a widely available  biopolymers such as Lignin or Cellulose which could be converted into gel electrolytes and modified with conductive functional groups for Na ion conduction. We will  determine its ionic conductivity for Na using impedance spectroscopy and quantify the ionic take-up under charging. We will correlate information about the polymer structure to the electrolyte performance with the aid of models to simulate ionic transport and the polymer:ion interactions.  The best resulting solid biopolymer electrolyte will be incorporated and tested in a two-terminal battery device built with conjugated polymer electrodes.

Printed and wearable electronics with 2D materials

In this project we aim at developing printable n-type semiconducting inks suitable for inkjet printing based on MoS2 semiconducting electronic 2D materials with superior properties in terms of environmental stability and field effect mobility of the organic semiconductors. We will use these inks to demonstrate inkjet printed electronic circuits based on p-type and n-type FETs.

Photophysics of organic near-infrared photodetectors

By combining the expertise of two host groups on device fabrication and characterisation, the project will aim to elucidate the photophysics of these material systems by using time-resolved ultrafast spectroscopy and transient photoluminescence. This will be complemented with the  current-voltage and EQE measurements on actual detector devices.

Charge Dynamics in Metal Oxide Heterojunctions – What Limits Efficiency in Low-Cost Solar-Driven Hydrogen Production?

During this project, the student will synthesise a range of heterojunction systems and use advanced spectroscopic tools to find out how the type of heterojunction and variations in preparation procedure effect the water splitting efficiency.

Engineering mobile defect behaviour in metal halide perovskite materials

The project will focus on developing approaches to engineer the nature, concentration and mobility of defects in 2D/3D perovskites by varying composition and stoichiometry (applying different cations and anions in the 2D perovskite), and additives. The materials will be incorporated into solar cells and memristors for characterisation. The project will also involve the application of new temperature dependent measurement techniques to measure defect mobility and concentration.

Atomistic understanding of resistance switching in nanowire based electrochemical metallization memories

This project will focus on the Ag/ZnO-NW/Pt system which has been experimentally designed in a very controlled way and model the Ag-ZnO-gas phase triple interface to study the process Ag→Ag++ etherein.

We will also address the effect of the presence of an applied electric field. Our results will be compared with switching voltage magnitudes in real NW ZnO devices.

Dual Atom Catalysts for CO2 Reduction

In this project we will build nitrogenase mimics consisting of two carbon atoms supported on graphene dopes with a heteroatom such as S to mimic the V cluster. We will then theoretically investigate the thermodynamics and kinetics of the ECO2R reaction.

Investigation of the photostability of perovskite solar cell

Here in this project photoluminescence together with other spectroscopic measurements will be mainly used to probe the charge carrier distribution changes in perovskite thus to indicating the origins of the photo-induced instability in a whole device. Different perovskite materials and device structures under several operation conditions will be investigated.

Chiral TADF Polymers for Circularly Polarised Luminescence with High Dissymmetry Factors

This project will seek to design and synthesise novel polymeric systems simultaneously capable of efficient TADF and strong CPL. The project will require chiral small molecule, monomer and polymer synthesis. The synthesised materials will subsequently be incorporated into thin film and device studies.

Tuning perovskite compositions for filterless photodetectors

Combined with a suite of optoelectronic measurements the project will aim to deliver composition and thickness related figures of merit for dark current, responsivity and detectivity allowing a holistic overview of structure-processing-property relationships in perovskite materials.

Ternary organic photodetectors

In this project, a variety of third components with different molecular packings, energy alignments and absorption profiles will be used in ternary blends to reveal the photophysics of high performance ternary organic photodetectors.

Solar driven disinfection – exploring an alternative use for plastic electronic materials

In this project, you will explore how plastic electronics can be applied to a novel application in chemical-free disinfection strategies. you will fabricate films based on novel organic and inorganic nanomaterials in chemistry labs, and perform biochemical assays to ascertain the effects of cell-generated superoxide on cell death and proliferation.

Synthesis of near-IR acceptors for Organic Solar Cells Photodiodes

This project will focus on the synthesis of novel near-IR and ultralow band gap (ULBG) organic semiconductors to optimize the absorption of IR photons for both organic photodiodes and semi-transparent organic solar cell applications.

Identifying intra-bandgap trap states in perovskite solar cells

The project will focus on 2D/3D perovskites with varying composition and stoichiometry (applying different cations and anions in the 2D perovskite) for solar cell applications. In particular we will investigate the energetics and defect/trap  states of the perovskite layer and correlate them to device efficiency and stability.

Understanding polymer-ion interactions for improved charge storage devices

The student will study the ion transport and charging characteristics of a series of conjugated polymers of systematically varied side chain and backbone structure, using electrochemical and spectroscopic methods; characterise ion transport in biopolymer based electrolytes; study the mechanical resilience and degree of swelling of the polymer electrodes under charging; investigate the electrode redox stability in ambient conditions and how that relates to chemical structure and energetics.

Electrical control of single-photon emission in highly-charged individual colloidal quantum dots

We have observed a 210-fold increase of the emission rate from a CdSe/CdS quantum dot under bias in an electrochemical cell. Now we want to push this result further and reach a deterministic control over the charge state and emission properties for classical and quantum communication technologies.

Sorted nanotubes for nanoelectronics

This project explores a new strategy to separate single-wall nanotubes exploiting new methods to create true solutions. The sorted segments may then be assembly using a unique supramolecular strategy to form function nanoelectronics junctions and devices.

Investigating the reaction mechanism of glycerol electrooxidation on atomic layer deposited single and dual-metal atom catalysts

In this project, we will develop Pt single-site and Pt-Sn dual-site catalysts and evaluate their performance for glycerol oxidation at the atomic scale. Theoretical and experimental methods will be combined to reveal the structural changes and the influence on the reaction mechanism.

Charge transport in printed two-dimensional materials for stretchable and wearable electronics

This project will join the expertise in synthesis of graphene and 2D materials thin films via printed electronics with the expertise in charge transport and semiconductors characterisation to investigate and establish a suitable transport model for thin films of 2D materials.

Optical Control of Electronic Properties in Graphene and 2D materials

This project will focus on developing new functionalities of 2D materials by combining novel optical control techniques and new methods for the synthesis of 2D materials developed in our labs. For this, student will get involved in fabrication of 2D materials thin films and then perform ultrafast spectroscopic experiments using transient absorption and optical control methods in visible, IR and THz spectral ranges.

Projects for MRes students

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Dr Rylie Green (Bioengineering, Imperial College) and Prof Sian Harding (National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College)

Cardiac pacemakers consist of three main components; generator, lead and electrode. The lead is the principal cause of both early and late complications of pacing. Approximately 5% of all implanted leads require explanting due to infection, lead dislodgement or mechanical failure. Furthermore, traditional pacemakers are incompatible with magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) techniques, generating unsafe amounts of heat inside the body.

This project will develop soft, flexible and electrically conductive polymeric materials designed to replace the metal components of pacemaker leads. Electrically conductive elastomers (ECEs) will be developed from composites of conductive polymers (CPs) and elastomeric materials. The project will focus on understanding how to combine these two classes of polymers to create a material capable of meeting the design criteria for flexible bioelectronics. Subsequent work will focus on the design of functional leads with an investigation of processing techniques that do not negatively impact on the ECE properties. Lead and electrodes will be developed in one step, as a continuation of the ECE material, to produce a robust device that carries less risk of fracture failure.

The research outcomes will contribute to the advancement of flexible bioelectronics, primarily focused on the development of stable, MRI compatible pacemaker leads but with clear relevance to a variety of implantable bionic devices.

A student with a polymer chemistry or materials science engineering background would be well suited to this project. Experience with biomaterials or cell culture would be of benefit but is not critical as postdoctoral support and training will be provided for these elements.

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Dr Matthew Fuchter (Chemistry, Imperial College) and Prof James Durrant (Chemistry, Imperial College)

Considerable effort has been devoted to the development of solar fuels that store the energy of the sun in chemical bonds. An attractive but far less well developed alternative approach would be to harvest and store solar energy in a closed cycle system through the conformational change of molecules that can release the energy in the form of heat on demand. Such solar thermal fuel (STFs) could provide readily integrateable carbon neutral solutions for the provision of heat for a range of personal and industrial heating applications, and would complement other, larger scale, solar thermal conversion processes.

Azobenzenes are molecules that can be photoisomerised from the ground state E isomer to a metastable Z isomer, which subsequently thermally converts back to the ground state; a process with excellent cyclability. Thus, they have long thought to hold potential as STFs. However, there are significant molecular and materials issues for this class of molecules which have hindered their potential and development.

In this project, we plan to exploit a new class of photochromic azo compounds recently discovered at Imperial. Through iterative design-synthesis-characterisation cycles using these scaffolds we aim to develop a pioneering a new class of materials for a range of solid-state STF heating applications.

The ideal candidate should be able to be able to conduct the planned synthesis, characterisation and materials processing required; the student would be expected to hold an undergraduate degree in Chemistry.

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Prof Martin Heeney (Chemistry, Imperial College) and Dr Martyn McLachlan (Materials, Imperial College)

This project will be focused on the development of low band gap non-fullerene acceptor materials for application in high-performance flexible and printed perovskite/organic integrated photovoltaic cells. To maximize the power-conversion efficiency of integrated solar cells, we will develop wide band gap perovskite and low band gap organic photovoltaic materials to achieve high open circuit voltages and to optimize complementary light absorption. Here we will specifically focus on the synthesis of low band gap acceptors.

This project is a collaboration with Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology.

This project would particularly suit a candidate with a strong interest in applied synthetic chemistry, who likes working in a multi-disciplinary team.

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Dr Artem Bakulin (Chemistry, Imperial College) and Dr Piers Barnes (Physics, Imperial College)

Nowadays, infrared light (IR) improves our life through many applications, including non-invasive imaging for medical and security purposes, temperature sensing, and communication. Presently, IR sensors are expensive, so technologies that enable the rapid and cost-efficient detection of IR are needed. One way to produce inexpensive electronic devices is to print them from plastics, however the bandgap of most solution processible materials is too wide to absorb IR light. Same time, bulky IR-absorbing molecules are incompatible with low-cost printing techniques.

This project will research the concept of novel hybrid perovskite-based IR photodetectors that use a two-step process for light detection. The idea relies on our recent observation that some electrons in organic and perovskite electronic devices get ‘stuck’ and cannot move until they receive a ‘kick’ of additional energy. In our detector, visible light or electrical pulses will be used to create a population of immobile electrons in the photodiode material. Then, incident IR photons will be absorbed by intragap optical transitions which will provide additional energy for these electrons to move and generate an electrical current for photodetection.

These novel detectors may bring new functionalities to printable perovskite-based electronics and might allow the integration of cheap and effective IR-sensitive components to existing imaging and communication devices.

The ideal candidate should have background in Physics, Chemistry or Material Science and preferably have some experience in plastic semiconductors, nanofabrication or optical spectroscopy.

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Prof Milo Shaffer (Chemistry, Imperial College) and Prof John de Mello (Chemistry, Imperial College)

Carbon-based electrodes promise both cheap, printable, flexible, transparent conductors and high performance thin film transistors, crucial for large area plastic electronics. A new process developed at Imperial/LCN/UCL allows dissolution of single-walled nanotubes, without any damaging sonication or oxidation; thus, in principle, very long SWNTs can be dispersed. The process produces charged nanocarbons, which are truly individualised in solution (as shown by neutron scattering), due to electrostatic repulsion. In addition, the charging process can be selective for metallic SWNTs, or semi-conducting SWNTs, and can be used to remove other unwanted impurities. The use of long, metallic nanotubes should provide the required significant improvements in transparent conducting network performance, particularly relevant to flexible electronics. The charge can be neutralised without damage, or exploited to control the deposition process, including creating hybrid composite films, integrating other active device components. The remaining semi-conducting SWNT fractions are of interest for thin film transistors and other PE applications; the LCN approach offers prospects of separating the semi-conducting species by band gap / type.

Our SWNT separation/dispersion technology is already patented and licensed for commercialisation; the extension to further SWNT applications is very timely. Recent important developments in the field, include a two order of magnitude reduction in the price of raw SWNTs, the commercial availability of pure semiconducting SWNTs, and Fujitsu’s recent announcement of a SWNT based memory chip.

The project combines various aspects including an understanding of the physical chemistry of colloidal systems to optimize these unusual inks, materials processing and characterization of thin films, and an appreciate of device physics. The student could have a background in physical/materials chemistry or physics. The emphasis of the project would likely be adjusted to build upon the strengths of the successful candidate.

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Prof John de Mello (Chemistry, Imperial College) and Prof Iain McCulloch (Chemistry, Imperial College)

This project seeks to address a key weakness in the field of organic photovoltaics, namely the absence of quality controlled production methods for organic semiconductors. Using fully integrated flow-based synthesis procedures, the project aims to provide a controlled method for the production of high performance non-fullerene acceptors that can be applied to both materials discovery and large-scale (> 100 g/day) manufacturing.

It is essential that the student has demonstrably strong synthetic chemistry skills (through a final year undergraduate project), along with a keen interest in learning flow chemistry. It is desirable, though not essential, for the student to have experience in electronics and software development. This is an industrially focused project, and therefore requires an interest in process scale-up and commercial aspects of chemistry, along with excellent presentation and communication skills.

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Dr Martyn McLachlan (Materials, Imperial College), Prof Martin Heeney (Chemistry, Imperial College) and Prof Myung-Han Yoon (GIST)

The project described builds on existing work within the research group that has formed part if the ICL-GIST GRL. Specifically we propose an approach that focuses on compositional and morphological control of the perovskite active layer material, and importantly, interfacing this with existing and novel charge selective interlayers. We propose detailed structural and compositional characterization (primarily by using analytical tools including TEM, XPS and SIMS) thus exposing the CDT student to state-of-the-art techniques in emerging device platforms.

The development of organic and hybrid interlayer materials, in collaboration with the team at GIST, will allow a focus on tuning electronic properties of the interlayers and to allow some control over reduced degradation in devices. Preliminary results show that simple surface modifications using SAMs/small molecules can have a profound impact on device stability. Additionally using simple deposition methods , controlling the orientation of inorganic interlayers (metal-oxides) can also improve lifetime and stability.

Importantly for the training of the PhD student, key to any successful CDT project, existing relationships will be built upon across the CDT and new collaborations with the research team at GIST will be established and strengthened.

This project is a collaboration with Gwangju Insitute of Science and Technology

This project would particularly suit a candidate with a strong in Materials Chemistry, device fabrication and materials characterization. Obviously a student who is enthusiastic about exchanges to Korea would be desireable.

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Prof Jenny Nelson (Physics, Imperial) and Dr Andreas Kafizas (Chemistry, Imperial)

Development of efficient solar energy conversion technologies for energy generation and storage is critical to future low carbon energy supplies. While solar-to-electric (photovoltaic) energy conversion is widely used, the storage of solar energy in the form of fuels is much less advanced. Photocatalytic fuel generation involves using a light-absorbing material to generate charges that can drive chemical reactions to generate a fuel, such as water photolysis into hydrogen and oxygen. Molecular semiconductors are extremely interesting for this application due to their tuneable, sharp and strong light absorption, low impact fabrication, and opportunity to control surface area. 

A key issue is the efficiency of the absorbed photon to charge transfer process. Even in the best functioning organic photocatalytic systems, the quenching of the photogenerated exciton is relatively weak. This stage can be improved through control of the dielectric environment, control of the microstructure of the catalyst, and by use of a heterojunction structure to drive the dissociation of excitons into separated charges. This project will explore the relationship between chemical structure, physical environment and photocatalytic activity of polymer based photocatalysts. Transient optical spectroscopy will be used as a tool to probe the efficiency of photoinduced charge transfer in different conditions. The project will investigate the advantages of using (a) nanostructured materials and (b) heterojunction structures, either based on organic-organic or hybrid organic – metal oxide heterojunctions, in improving photocatalytic activity. In particular we will investigate the trade off between light harvesting and generation of chemical potential when using heterojunction structures.

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Prof Ji-Seon Kim (Physics, Imperial College) and TBC

Organic sensor devices such as organic photodetectors (OPDs) are important optoelectronic applications using organic semiconductors as a light detecting active medium. OPDs have attracted significant interest in the last two decades due to the possibility for using them for a variety of industrial and scientific applications such as environmental monitoring, communications, remote control, surveillance, and chemical/ biological sensing, with low-cost, light-weight, high efficiency and high environmental friendliness. For OPD applications, it is critical for organic semiconductors to have efficient light harvesting (with high photocurrent and low dark current) and high spectral selectivity (from UV to NIR/IR) properties.  Although the rich variety of organic compounds with their absorption spanning from the UV to NIR offers unique possibilities for these required properties, organic semiconductors with a large photoresponse at NIR spectral ranges with efficient light harvesting and air stability are still very difficult to find.  In this project, we will develop key fundamental understanding of organic sensor materials and devices towards high-performance and high-stability NIR photodetectors.

Applications closed

Please note: this provides an example of a project that has now been filled.

Supervised by Prof Ji-Seon Kim (Physics, Imperial) and TBC

Continuous increase in the device performance of organic and hybrid (including perovskites) solar cells is strongly related to better understanding of optical and electronic properties of the photoactive layer. There are still many electronic processes in organic/organic and organic/inorganic layers that are critical to device performance (e.g. charge carrier generation/recombination, trapping of electrons and holes, and ionic movement) and are not yet fully understood. This project aims to investigate these important electronic processes in terms of their energy levels and the illumination generated surface photovoltage and its transient behaviour. For this, Ambient pressure air photoemission spectroscopy and Kelvin Probe-based surface photovoltage techniques will be used.