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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y014952/1
Title: Mastering charge-lattice interactions in novel semiconductors for renewable energy generation
Principal Investigator: Herz, Professor LM
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
ETH Zurich Friedrich-Alexander Univ of Erlangen FAU ICFO (Institute for Photonic Sciences)
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Northwestern University Oxford Photovoltaics Limited
Rice University Technical University of Munich University of Texas at Austin
University of Twente Wuhan University
Department: Oxford Physics
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 July 2024 Ends: 30 June 2029 Value (£): 2,438,409
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electronic Devices & Subsys. Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Dec 2023 EPSRC Open and Open Plus Fellowships- December 2023 Announced
19 Sep 2023 EPSRC Physical Sciences Prioritisation Panel - September 2023 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Harvesting the energy of sunlight offers a realistic, clean and sustainable solution towards energy generation with net-zero carbon emissions. Such aspiration has created an urgent need for a powerful catalogue of new inorganic or hybrid semiconductors to serve as cheap, efficient and stable light-harvesting materials for solar energy conversion. Particularly desirable are semiconductors enabling low energy pay-back time of fabricated light-harvesting devices, for example by material deposition from solution, low-temperature vapour deposition, or self-assembly of nanoscale building blocks. Intriguingly, many of these materials have recently been found to straddle the boundaries of "traditional" hard inorganic semiconductors (e.g. silicon) and classic "soft" molecular solids, opening up a complex array of exciting new fundamental science. The unusual properties displayed by such materials, including structural flexibility, strongly anharmonic lattice potentials, ionic migration, nanoscale assembly, or complex charge-screening processes are still poorly understood despite their critical impact on electronic properties and hence device performance.

The overarching scientific aim of this Open Fellowship is to provide a paradigm shift in our fundamental understanding of the charge-lattice interactions that govern such effects. Specifically, the programme will reveal how interactions between photogenerated charge carriers and their surrounding ionic lattice affect parameters such as charge-carrier mobilities and recombination, and light-driven lattice instabilities that are critical to performance in energy-harvesting devices. Materials explored will expand from an initial selection of semiconducting metal halides, chalcohalides, metal chalcogenides, bisimides, and antimonides. Through observations across grouped materials clusters, this Fellowship programme will link charge-lattice interactions to attributes such as stoichiometry, electronic and structural dimensionality, lone-pair chemistry, structural flexibility, vibrational and dielectric response, lattice softness and anharmonicity, and ionic mobilities. Importantly, an examination of charge-lattice interaction across such a vast range of semiconducting materials in unison will enable patterns to be discernible that could not be discovered through work carried out on isolated materials. Through a powerful combination of advanced spectroscopic and structural techniques, this Fellowship will establish clear correlations and mechanisms linking core properties critical to efficient light-harvesting with basic material properties at an atomistic, electronic and structural level. This ambitious programme will further co-ordinate activities across a large number of Project Partners and collaborators, inspiring new synthetic activity and providing design tools urgently needed for computational materials screening.

Overall, this Fellowship will tackle the complex array of exciting fundamental science arising in "soft" inorganic and hybrid semiconductors, seeking to develop new understanding to bridge the gap between existing models for well-established hard and soft semiconductors. The resulting discoveries will provide a blueprint for light-harvesting materials, guiding and accelerating the development of next-generation inorganic and hybrid crystalline semiconductors for the net-zero carbon transition. In addition, this Fellowship will serve as a springboard for advocacy in in the Net Zero area, through interactions with stakeholders, including policy makers, industrial partners, research councils, and learned societies. The Open Fellowship will also be leveraged to create an effective mentoring network for women in energy research in order to widen the talent pool in an area vital to planetary and human health.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk