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Dopants for organic thermoelectric materials

Applications are invited from Chinese citizens interested in a PhD studentship starting in October 2017 to work in the research group of Dr. Bob C. Schroeder at the Materials Research Institute (MRI) at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). The selected applicant will then apply with Dr. Schroeder’s support to the Chinese Scholarship Council Program in order to secure the necessary funding. If successful, the funding for this studentship will cover fees and an annual stipend up to 48 months.

Queen Mary University of London is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and is one of the UK’s leading research-focused higher education institutions, committed to high-quality teaching and research. PhD opportunities are available for highly motivated Chinese citizens interested in the interdisciplinary research field of semiconducting polymers and organic thermoelectric applications.

Energy security and efficiency are two of the most pressing questions many countries must face to sustain and propel their economic development in the future, especially with the unforeseeable consequences of climate change looming at the horizon. Of all energy produced, barely 40% are used to conduct actual work, large amounts of the remaining 60% are dissipated to the environment as waste heat. Recovering this wasted energy however is difficult, mainly due to a lack of suitable technologies. One technology particularly well suited for the recovery of low temperature (<200oC) waste heat are organic thermoelectric generators (OTEG). In contrast to current thermoelectric generators which are brittle and based on rare and often toxic material alloys, organic materials allow the fabrication of light-weight, large area conformal OTEG devices.

The poor thermal conductivity and high electrical conductivity of organic conjugated polymers makes this class of materials an interesting alternative for thermoelectric applications. However, the electrical conductivities are still lacking those of inorganic materials, mainly because of the absence of potent dopants for organic semiconducting polymers. Doping plays a key role in organic thermoelectrics because it allows to enhance the materials conductivity, thus increasing the overall device performance. Besides thermoelectric applications, efficient and air stable dopants are crucial for the development of organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), organic photovoltaics (OPV) and organic field effect transistors (OFET), helping to minimize ohmic losses by reducing injection barriers.

This PhD project will aim to design new air stable and potent dopants (both p and n-type) for organic semiconductors. When selecting dopants for a particular application, special emphasis is put at selecting favourable energy off-sets between electron donor and acceptor. However, less scrutiny is put towards the “morphological” compatibility of the often molecular dopant and the polymeric semiconductor. This incompatibility leads to morphological instabilities and ultimately to the phase separation of the dopant and the semiconductor, resulting in poor doping efficiencies. This project will tackle the morphological instabilities by specifically designing dopants for a particular semiconductor family, thus simultaneously enhancing the morphological stability of the semiconductor-dopant blend and the doping efficiency.

The successful applicant will have a solid background in synthetic chemistry and be comfortable operating at the boundaries of Chemistry, Physics and Material Science. The interdisciplinary nature of the project will require the candidate to be familiar with or willing to learn new analysis techniques, such as spectroscopic techniques (NMR, UV-vis, FTIR) or materials analysis techniques (DSC, TGA, CV, XRD, AFM). Device fabrication and characterization (electrical and thermal conductivity, respectively thermopower measurements) will be carried out in collaboration with colleagues at the Materials Research Institute, as well as external national and international collaborators.

Applying

To apply please send your CV, a short statement outlining why are you interested in a PhD opportunity in the Schroeder Research Group and the contact information of two references to Dr Schroeder via email. Early applications are strongly encouraged.

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