PhD - Genk | More than two weeks ago
Really sustainable energy for the future
Conversion of sunlight into electrical energy is one of the most promising routes to meet the 30 TW global electricity demand by 2050. Photovoltaic (PV) solar cell technologies currently provide in the order of 1 TW of power. However, at the >10 TW level of electrical energy production, concerns remain about the sustainability of the growth of the Si solar cell manufacturing, as well as the availability of critical chemical elements for thin film PV technologies. In addition, storing electricity using batteries for later use, or converting it to fuels for mobile applications, presents an even greater challenge than reaching 30 TW. Hence, new solar cell absorbers are needed, for photoelectrochemical (PEC) fuels production in particular: this is the area where the lack of suitable semiconductor materials is much more pressing than for PV electricity generation. The solar absorber materials used in these novel technologies should be inexpensive, efficient, and reliable like current technologies, but should also be easily scalable to multi-TW levels without constraint.
Nitride semiconductors are a promising class of materials for solar energy conversion applications, such as photovoltaic and photoelectrochemical cells. Nitrides can have better solar absorption and electrical transport properties than the more widely studied oxides, as well as the potential for better scalability than other pnictides or chalcogenides. In addition, nitrides are also relatively unexplored compared to other chemistries, so they provide a great opportunity for new materials discovery.
The PhD candidate will initiate the research on such nitride materials for photovoltaic and photoelectrochemical cells. The project will be conducted in the interdisciplinary and multicultural team of highly skilled scientists and engineers already performing world-class research on thin-film and solar fuel technologies of the future. The research will be developed in the newly built, state-of-the-art research facilities at EnergyVille, Genk.
Required background: materials science, physics, chemistry, physical engineering, electrical engineering
Type of work: 60% experimental, 25% characterization and modelling, 15% literature
Supervisor: Bart Vermang
Daily advisor: Guy Brammertz
The reference code for this position is 2023-051. Mention this reference code on your application form.