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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T011793/1
Title: Layered copper oxychalcogenides for next generation p-type transparent conductors
Principal Investigator: Hyett, Dr G
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Southampton
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 31 October 2019 Ends: 30 October 2022 Value (£): 394,165
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Condensed Matter Physics Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
11 Sep 2019 EPSRC Physical Sciences - September 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Vision: To develop an understanding of how the structure and composition of a class of mixed oxygen-sulfur and oxygen-selenium compounds, known as layered oxychalcogenides, controls their optoelectronic properties and use this to develop a 'p-type' transparent conductor with commercially viable transparency and conductivity.

Transparent conductors, as the name implies, are materials that are transparent while also having high electrical conductivity. They are an indispensable class of material for modern electronics, being found in the screens of smart phones and tablet computers, in solar cell panels and in coatings for thermally efficient glazing. The global market for transparent conductors in 2018 was in excess of $7.1 billion. However, this market is dominated by just two materials, indium tin oxide (ITO) and fluorine doped tin oxide (FTO), and crucially both of these are 'n-type' where the conduction originates through movement of negatively charged particles - electrons. In 'p-type' materials, the conduction is in electron deficient layers and is considered as movement of 'holes' carrying a formal positive charge. In non-transparent semiconductor electronics both n-type and p-type materials are used, and their combination allows formation of diodes and transistors which are the fundamental building blocks of modern electronic devices.

In contrast, for transparent conductors there is no stable p-type conductor with sufficient transparency or conductivity to rival n-type ITO or FTO. The discovery of such a p-type transparent conductor would be transformative in enabling new technology. In combination with existing n-type transparent conductors, the availability of p-type transparent coatings would allow for formation of transparent p-n junctions that could be used to create transparent transistors, and hence transparent electronics. This would open up the possibility of integrated electronics on windows, mirrors and car windscreens - for example, providing a head-up-display for cars or in the next generation of smart glasses. Additional applications of transparent electronics would include integrated photovoltaics on windows, invisible RFIDs for security, and more efficient, brighter and lighter LEDs. A p-type transparent conductor would also reduce materials supply risk by providing alternative options for existing transparent conductor applications.

Our proposal is to investigate the layered oxychalcogenides, a materials class that has already produced at least eight known examples with p-type conductivity, if not optical transparency. From the literature, at least six different structure classes of layered oxychalcogenides are known; considering all of these and applying a series of design rules allows us to generate a target phase space of 950 oxysulfides and oxyselenides in which to identify transparent conductive materials. This is too large a phase space to investigate by exhaustive synthesis, so we will instead use a selective approach to create a compound library and use this to gain an understanding of the effect of composition on optoelectronic properties. Assessment of conductivity for this compound library will allow us to improve our design strategy and effectively target high mobility materials. We will also take advantage of computational materials modelling in collaboration with the research group of Prof David Scanlon at UCL, to more rapidly assess the stability and properties of target compositions.

By the end of the project we will have synthesized and characterised between 20 and 40 new layered oxychalcogenides and identified from within this set the most promising candidates for transparent p-type conductor applications. We will also generate a new understanding of the structure-property relations in this important class of solid-state material, and use this to identify and optimise at least one new p-type transparent conductor with conductivity equal to commercial materials.

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Organisation Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk