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Vacancies (PhD studentships, postdoctoral researchers)

Postdoctoral positions

I have no advertised postdoctoral positions available at present.

You are also welcome to get in touch if you are thinking of making an application for external funding (e.g. Newton Fellowship, Marie Curie etc) to work as a postdoctoral researcher in my research area. Please send a CV.

PhD projects

I am always interested in hear from suitably-qualified potential PhD students, with an interest in silicon materials for photovolatics. Please read the information below and make an enquiry by e-mail (john dot d dot murphy at warwick dot ac dot uk). Please make sure to attach a CV. Please note that I will require you to make a formal application before I can make a final admissions decision. Funding may be available for suitably-qualified UK/ EU students.

Background information

Photovoltaics have the potential to supply the majority of the world’s electricity. Today’s market is dominated from cells made from bulk silicon (~90%) and silicon’s abundance and properties (chemical stability, density, band gap, and non-toxicity) mean that there is a good chance it will continue to dominate in the longer term. Although uptake of photovoltaic technologies is increasing rapidly, without subsidy all stable photovoltaic technologies are too expensive to compete with incumbent electricity generation sources. Academic research is needed to improve the performance of materials to produce more cost-effective silicon solar cells.

My group works on the materials science of silicon for photovoltaics. We have interests in area such as the properties of defects in the bulk, impurity gettering, impurity transport, surface passivation, anti-reflection coatings, and improving device processing. We do not have the facilities to work at the systems/ cell level. I typically find my graduate students have undergraduate degrees in Physics, Materials Science or Electronic Engineering. Some available projects include:

1. Silicon materials for high efficiency photovoltaic solar cells

The performance of the very highest efficiency silicon solar cells (e.g. back-junction back-contact cells) is becoming limited by the minority carrier lifetime in the substrate. Although carrier lifetimes in the best silicon wafers now routinely exceed 1ms, the best cells will soon require lifetimes of > 10ms. Although in normal operating conditions such lifetimes are physically possible, defects in the material mean that they are seldom achieved in practice. Recombination centres present in very low concentrations (parts in a million million) can impinge on the carrier lifetime. This project aims to understand the origin of this weak recombination activity, and ideally developing ways to overcome it. Experimental techniques such as photoconductance lifetime measurements and photoluminescence imaging will be used, and there will be a need for occasional cleanroom working. The project will be in collaboration with a leading silicon manufacturer. This PhD project requires prior knowledge and an interest in semiconductor materials. It would ideally suit a candidate with an undergraduate degree in physics, materials science, or electrical engineering.

2. Improved multi-crystalline silicon for photovoltaic solar cells

Information to appear here soon.

3. Other projects

If you are interested in PhD projects in my research area then please contact me.

Funding for PhD students (UK and the rest of the EU)

Studentships for UK and EU applicants may be available via the EPSRC DTA. These are usually subject to internal competition schemes, but strong candidate should not be deterred.

Funding for PhD students (outside of the EU)

I am happy to receive applications from students from outside the EU, but it is very difficult for me to find financial support. Very strong non-EU students without their own funding could consider submitting an application for a Warwick Chancellor's International Scholarship, for which the deadline is also usually in January. Please note that this scheme is exceptionally competitive. If you have your own financial support (e.g. personal funds or a scholarship from your home country) then please get in touch.

Internships/ summer projects

Warwick students

I am interested to hear from Warwick undergraduates from Engineering or Physics who might be interested in performing summer projects in my laboratory. Warwick undergraduates can apply for funding for summer projects from the Undergraduate Research Support Scheme (URSS). Additional schemes are often run by the Materials GRP or the Energy GRP. Deadlines for these schemes are usually in January/ February, so please contact me at least a couple of weeks before the deadline to discuss possible opportunities.

Non-Warwick students

I receive a lot of enquiries from overseas undergraduate/ masters students wanting to carry out internships/ summer projects in my laboratory. Unfortunately, I do not usually have the resources to support such projects at present. I can only therefore consider applications for short visiting projects if the student already has experience directly relevant to my research area.