University of Cambridge

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Fully Funded (Home/EU Rate) PhD Studentship (Fixed Term)

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3.5 years in the first instance.

Sponsor: EPSRC PhD studentship Supervisor: Dr Louise C Hirst Start date: October 2018

The space industry has expanded rapidly in recent years, driven by a boom in demand for satellite bandwidth and new capabilities. Many aspects of modern life including agriculture, emergency services and individual mobile connectivity are dependent on space technologies to provide ubiquitous functionalities such as communications, navigation, precision timing, meteorological data and real-time imaging.

Space technologies are primarily powered by photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, most of which are III-V multi-junction devices. These devices have high solar energy conversion efficiency and reasonable tolerance to harsh radiation environments found in space, compared with other materials such as silicon. However, satellite services and the scope of space missions are still limited by the restrictions of the PV power supply.

In theory, the bandgap and band alignment design space offered by novel quaternary III-V alloys enables enhanced solar energy conversion efficiency of multi-junction devices, however, in practice the growth of these alloys is extremely challenging, due to the immiscibility of constituent components, which leads to inhomogeneities in the solid, severely degrading optical and electrical properties.

Understanding these effects is the first step towards mitigating them and this studentship would focus on the characterization of these novel alloys by integrating nanoscale imaging and ultra-fast luminescence techniques, with computational analysis to determine the atomic arrangement of the solid and map the transport of photogenerated carriers. In this way, material properties can be reengineered to improve device performance and enable new functionality.

The minimum academic requirement for admission is an upper second class UK honours degree at the level of MSci, MEng, MPhys, MChem etc, or a lower second with a good Master's, (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.

The studentship provides a maintenance grant at the minimum Research Council UK rate and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students who fully satisfy the residence requirements of the UK Research Councils. A fees-only award will be available to EU nationals who are not ordinarily resident in the UK. Students who are liable for fees at the 'overseas' rate are not eligible for these studentships.

An on-line application form is available at Further information on the application process is available from Dr Rosie Ward,

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Louise Hirst by email to

Please quote reference LJ14855 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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