I studied Physics Engineering at Politecnico di Milano (Milano, Italy), where I earned a bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s degree. Both of them consisted mainly of solid state physics classes, with a particular focus on semiconductors (for electronics and photonics application) and magnetic nanostructures. My first experience in research was at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France), where I spent 10 months working as a trainee for my master thesis project.
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Transparent Conducting Oxides (TCOs) are heavily doped, wide band gap semiconductors that exhibit two seemly incompatible properties: High optical transparency and electrical conductivity. TCOs have become ubiquitous in our everyday lives, and are widely used as transparent electrodes in devices such as solar cells, flat panel displays and light emitting diodes, and as coatings in energy efficient low-emissivity windows. The most commercially successful TCO so far is tin doped indium oxide (Indium Tin Oxide – ITO), which has become the industrial standard TCO with a market share of 93% in 2013, owing to its achievable resistivity as low as 7.2 × 10-5Ω cm and visible transparency greater than 90%. However, the global indium resources are fairly limited and often found in unstable geopolitical areas. The overwhelming demand for ITO has led to large fluctuations in the cost of indium over the past decade. There has thus been a drive in recent years to develop reduced-indium and indium-free materials which can replace ITO as the dominant industrial TCO. Recent research has therefore been focusing on developing alternative TCOs that are more abundant and less expensive, as well as identifying suitable dopants for these host oxides to reach high carrier density and mobility.
In this combined computational and experimental PhD studentship, we will screen the effect of novel dopants on the conductivity and mobility of conventional as well as new transparent conducting oxides, in an effort to supplant In2O3:Sn as the industry standard. The student will carry out density functional theory calculations at UCL Chemistry (Dr David Scanlon) to identify suitable dopants and indium-free host materials, such as SnO2, ZnO, Ga2O3 and BaSnO3, as high-performance TCOs. The resulting TCOs will be synthesised in the form of thin films by chemical vapour deposition (CVD) at UCL Chemistry (Professors Ivan Parkin and Claire Carmalt) and by magnetron-sputtering-deposition at the University of Liverpool (Dr Tim Veal); single crystals of TCOs will be grown and their transport properties will be measured at ISIS on Harwell Campus in Dr Robin Perry’s laboratory (UCL/ISIS). The student is expected to make significant contribution to the single crystal growth at ISIS and participate the CVD preparation at UCL. The student will then characterise these samples using hard x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (HAXPES), x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and VUV and soft x-ray angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy (VUV/SX-ARPES) at Diamond Light Source (Dr Tien-Lin Lee), and be responsible for analysing the data to determine the electronic structures and comparing the experimental results with the DFT calculations.
Applications to this studentship will open in early 2018.
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