Electrical properties of nanostructured surfaces

Photovoltaics have moved well beyond silicon solar cells, promising ever greater harvesting of energy from our nearest fusion reactor, the sun. Both organic and inorganic approaches require careful understanding of the nanoscale electrical properties of the films at the interface layers. The Atomic Force Microscope in electrical characterisation modes can be used for this, and combined with macroscopic techniques to relate the effects at different lengthscales.

Conductivity of Ag Nanowires. Silver is a popular material amongst nanotechnologists, and ultra-narrow wires can be grown with minimal effort. The properties of these wires is of great interest, particularly when heated. This project will be done in collaboration with Daniel Langley.

Electrical characterisation of ZnO nanostructures. Many advanced inorganic photovoltaics rely on an ultrathin zinc oxide structures to get charge out of the device. These structures need to conduct electricity in just the right way. The student will characterise a range of ZnO nanostructures grown by collaborators to give feedback into optimising growth recipes.

Electrochemistry of Pyrite under fluids. Pyrite is an abundant natural semiconductor with, theoretically, very good photovoltaic properties. In practice, defects and surface effects are a barrier to working devices. This project will attempt to work out what these effects are, and how to get around them. Along the way, it may shed some light on how to combat acid mine drainage, a very significant environmental problem.