Towards 25% Efficient Perovskite Solar Cell - Renewable Energy - EPSRC DTP funded PhD Studentship Ref: 2951

About the award

This project is one of a number funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership to commence in September 2018. This project is in direct competition with others for funding; the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding.

The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,553 per annum for 2017-2018. It will provide research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Please note that of the total number of projects within the competition, up to 15 studentships will be filled.

Prof. Tapas Mallick
Dr. Senthil Sundaram

Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Project Description
With the depletion of fossil fuels and concerns related to global warming, there is a strong need for research and innovation within renewable energy. The use of photovoltaics (PV) for conversion of the sunlight into electricity has experienced an incredible boost over the last decade. While silicon solar cells have covered the bulk of the increase in demand, thin film alternatives have been able to keep up, and do at the current point constitute the cheapest alternative (although marginally) in terms of $/Wp. The materials Cu(In, Ga)Se2 (CIGS), CdTe  and CuZnSnS (CZTS), have been the dominating light absorbing materials in thin film PV. The constituents of these materials present certain issues; Cd is a very toxic metal whereas the availability of both Te and In is limited i. Thus, alternative materials are now under intense investigation, as for example the Cu2ZnSnS4 ii and different sulfide materials iii. Development of technologies, invention of new materials can lead to the reduction of PV electricity generation cost. 

The project’s aim is to make perovskite inks for thin film solar cells. Specifically, the aim is to develop a general algorithm of making perovskite inks with high crystalline nature for solar cells preparation. The inks will be used for the ink-jet printing techniques based perovskite solar cell manufacturing, which can be, adoptable by industries. This goal will be achieved in three key objectives:

  • Ink formulation for ink-jet printing. The formulation of perovskite ink is a key challenge in this process. The property of the ink will be such as viscosity, surface tension, wettability and adhesion to FTO and ITO substrates adjusted to get optimal performance. This will be achieved through aggregation and precipitation free inks with suitable stabiliser solvents. 
  • Replacing Organic HTM material. Low stability and degradation of the perovskite solar cells. The stability loss is mainly from the organic hole transport materials. The carbon-based materials will be explored to make p-type materials for perovskite solar cells. This project also concentrates to formulate ink based on carbon based p-type materials and its stability as well. 
  • Device Modelling and atomic scale modeling. Device modeling for perovskite solar cells and atomic scale modeling of materials properties by first-principles calculations will be adopted to fine-tune the materials to achieve higher performances. Study of influence of intrinsic and extrinsic point defects on electrical and optical properties of the films will be carried out along with defect engineering of electrical and optical properties of the perovskite.

Entry Requirements
The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes.  If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs. To be eligible for fees-only funding you must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.  For information on EPSRC residency criteria click here.

Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are NOT eligible for funding. International students interested in studying at the University of Exeter should search our funding database for alternative options.


Application deadline:10th January 2018
Value:3.5 year studentship: UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate. Current rate of £14,553 per year.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Doctoral

How to apply

You will be required to upload the following documents:
•       CV
•       Letter of application outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to
        undertake the project.
•       Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.  This should be an interim
        transcript if you are still studying.
•       If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current
        proficiency in English.  For further details of the University’s English language requirements please see

The closing date for applications is midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 10 January 2018.  Interviews will be held at the University of Exeter in late February 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email:
Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor.

During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

• the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
• administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.