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Professor N Neophytou

PhD Scholarship: Complex nanostructures as exceptional thermoelectric energy materials

Qualification: Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)Sensors word art

Start date: October 2022

Application deadline: 28 March 2022

Funding for: UK Students for 3.5 years

Supervisors: Professor Neophytos Neophytou

Project Description:

The need for energy sustainability makes the development of clean energy technologies imperative. Thermoelectrics are materials that can convert heat into electricity. As 60% of all energy we use, accounting for up to 15 TW, is lost into heat during conversion processes, thermoelectrics could play a major role in energy savings by converting this heat back into electricity. However, they have not found use in widespread applications yet, because of low efficiencies and high material prices.

Over the last several years, however, highly heterogeneous, hybrid, and nanostructured materials with complex electronic structures, have emerged as exceptional candidates for realizing the high thermoelectric performance required. In these novel materials, the complexities of the electronic structure, the disorder which is introduced hierarchically at the atomic scale, the nanoscale (<10nm) and the macroscale, and organic/inorganic mixtures, allow for a wide range of design ‘knobs’ that can tune the performance of the material. Initial lab demonstrations signal enormous potential; however, the absence of proper computational tools hinders the design and optimization of these energy materials.

This project investigates, through advanced theory and large-scale simulation, the electronic and thermoelectric performance of complex electronic structure materials and their alloys in the presence of a large degree of nanostructuring and optimizes their thermoelectric conversion efficiency. A variety of electronic and thermal transport methods (semiclassical and quantum mechanical), as well as a variety of electronic structure methods (DFT, tight-biding, effective mass models) will be utilized appropriately in a multi-physics, multi-scale methodology.


The award will cover the tuition fees at the UK student rate, plus a stipend of £15,890 per annum for 3.5 years of full-time study.


Candidates should be eligible for home fees (typically a UK national), and the ideal applicant for the post would have an undergraduate or preferably an MSc degree in Physics, Materials, or Electronics Engineering students, and experience or interest in programming.

How to apply:

Candidates should submit a formal application, details of how to do so can be found here 

In the application form funding section enter: Source: NN Complex Hybrid Materials

If you have any questions or would like more information about this project, please contact Professor Neophytos Neophytou 

The University of Warwick provides an inclusive working and learning environment, recognising and respecting every individual’s differences. We welcome applications from individuals who identify with any of the protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010.

Other projects:

Modelling the compositional variation of the properties of magnetic refrigeration materialsLink opens in a new window
Supervisors: Prof. Julie Staunton (Physics), Phytos Neophytou (Engineering), Tilmann Hickel (Max-Planck-Institut fur Eisenforschung)

Refrigeration using magnetic materials has emerged as a promising new, energy efficient and environmentally friendly solid state cooling technology. Cooling cycles are designed to manipulate the changes of entropy and temperature that happen when a magnetic field is applied to align randomly oriented magnetic moments. This project will use a computational approach that models the material at the sub-nanoscale to account for the interactions among the moments and their statistical mechanics to describe the cooling properties quantitatively. We will investigate the effect of compositional heterogeneities, nanostructuring and disorder on the changes of magnetic and structural state of a material, i.e. phase transitions, where the cooling effects are largest.

Further information: 

Electronic and phononic transport in highly heterogeneous nanomaterials and devicesLink opens in a new window
Supervisors: Neophytos Neophytou (School of Engineering), Julie Staunton (Physics)

Two thirds of all energy we use is lost into heat during conversion processes, a loss which puts enormous pressure on the planet, the use of fossil fuels, and energy sustainability. Thermoelectric materials could be part of the solution, as they convert waste heat into electricity, but their large scale implementation is hindered by low efficiencies and material availability. The project uses atomistic and quantum transport methods to investigate and optimize new generation nanostructured materials with complex electronic and phononic structures, that could boost the thermoelectric figure of merit to unprecedented levels. 

Note: Should your application for admission be accepted you should be aware that this does not constitute an offer of financial support. Please refer to the scholarships & funding pages.