Skip to main content

Nanoscience of organic semiconductors for energy applications


Coronavirus information for applicants and offer holders

We hope that by the time you’re ready to start your studies with us the situation with COVID-19 will have eased. However, please be aware, we will continue to review our courses and other elements of the student experience in response to COVID-19 and we may need to adapt our provision to ensure students remain safe. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, regularly visit our website, which we will continue to update as the situation changes

Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Friday 18 March 2022
Project start date
Saturday 1 October 2022
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Dr Sean Collins
School of Chemical and Process Engineering, School of Chemistry
Research groups/institutes
Crystallisation and Directed Assembly, Materials characterisation
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Harnessing materials for a low-carbon future is a multifaceted grand challenge. Organic semiconductors continue to reveal exciting new physics and chemistry for boosting optical and electronic properties for energy applications from solar energy to lighting. A critical knowledge gap for these materials is understanding how disorder and defects in the atomic structure of organic molecular crystals and polymer semiconductors limits their ability to absorb or emit light and to move energy around in a device. This project will use cutting edge scanning transmission electron microscopy and electron beam spectroscopy tools to probe the links between chemical composition, molecular packing, and optical transitions in organic and hybrid semiconductors. These results will define opportunities for defect and interface engineering in organic optoelectronic devices (organic light emitting diodes, thin film transistors, and photovoltaics) and begin to unlock organic semiconductors for energy conversion and lighting technologies.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>As part of a national materials strategy for the energy transition, emerging semiconductors have been targeted for improved optoelectronic properties as enabling materials technologies for energy applications&nbsp;[1].&nbsp;Organic semiconductors exhibit unusual optical properties, with discoveries of their photonic properties [2, 3] continuing to open new routes to improvements despite being part of commercial technologies like organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs)&mdash;even in OLEDs, achieving reliable blue light emission remains limited with available materials. A key obstacle has been the lack of techniques that can directly retrieve structure-function relationships at the nanometre length scales relevant to molecular ordering, defects, and degradation processes in organic semiconductors. &nbsp;This project will develop electron beam spectroscopy (electron energy loss spectroscopy) and electron microscopy, cornerstones of advances in inorganic materials engineering, to eliminate this gap for next generation organic and hybrid semiconductors.</p> <p>Breakthroughs in electron microscopy for spectroscopic detail and ways of working with very low electron fluences (dose) mean that the field is poised to make critical advances for materials like organic semiconductors which have been limited previously due to irreversible changes when exposed to high energy electron beams in standard&nbsp;operating conditions. This project will develop emerging electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS)&nbsp; and four-dimensional scanning transmission electron microscopy (4D-STEM) methods for optical, vibrational, and core level spectroscopy in tandem with structural characterization. The student will prepare films of organic molecular crystal semiconductors with controlled doping and will create isotope labelling and defect-engineered materials to image their local (&lt;5 nm) effects on absorption and luminescence characteristics needed for energy applications. Over the course of the project, polymer semiconductors and multi-layer device structures will also be examined.&nbsp;</p> <p>The student will also regularly join trips to SuperSTEM, the EPSRC National Facility for Advanced Electron Microscopy (Daresbury, Cheshire, UK) and to the electron Physical Sciences Imaging Centre at the Diamond Light Source (Harwell, Oxfordshire, UK) in addition to facilities the Leeds Electron Microscopy and Spectroscopy Centre, including cryo-microscopy. The project will be embedded within a multidisciplinary environment across the School of Chemistry, the School of Chemical and Process Engineering, and the Bragg Centre for Materials Research.</p> <p>References:<br /> [1] &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<a href=" ">;</a><br /> [2] &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;R. Pandya et al. &ldquo;Ultrafast long-range energy transport via light-matter coupling in organic semiconductor films,&rdquo; arXiv. <a href=" ">;</a><br /> [3]&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;A. Sneyd et al. &ldquo;Efficient energy transport in an organic semiconductor mediated by transient exciton delocalization,&rdquo;&nbsp;<em>Science Advances </em>(2021), 7, eabh4232. <a href=""></a>.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in tthe Planned Course of Study that you are applying for <em><strong>PHD Chemical &amp; Process Engineering FT</strong></em> and&nbsp;in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Nanoscience of organic semiconductors for energy applications</strong></em>&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Sean M. Collins</a> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>A highly competitive Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship consisting of the award of fees with a maintenance grant (currently &pound;15,609 for session 2021/22) for 3.5 years.&nbsp;</p> <p>This opportunity is open to all applicants. All candidates will be placed into the Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship and selection is based on academic merit.&nbsp;</p> <p>Please refer to the <a href="">UKCISA</a> website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals starting from September/October 2021</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Dr Sean Collins: e: <a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information please contact the Graduate School Office<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>, t: +44 (0)113 343 37128.</p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>