Atomic Layer Deposition of Novel Nanolayer Materials for Solar Cells (PhD project)


Supervisory Chair



Solar photovoltaics (PV) has emerged as THE breakthrough technology which will underpin the coming clean energy transition and allow us to address the epochal challenge of climate change. Solar PV is now expected to account for more global installed capacity than any other energy source by as early as the end of the current decade. This revolution is being driven by the fact that PV is now the cheapest form of new electricity generation in many parts of the world, thanks in large part to continuous improvements in solar cell efficiency over the last decades. Further improvements in efficiency promise to drive prices for PV electricity even lower, opening up completely new economic opportunities, such as green hydrogen production.

In this project, you will contribute to the development of the next generation of high-efficiency solar cells by developing novel nanolayer materials to address some of the key challenges currently limiting solar cell efficiencies. Specifically, you will employ atomic layer deposition (ALD), an advanced fabrication technique offering atomic-scale control of film thickness and composition, to fabricate novel transparent conductive materials, including oxides, nitrides and sulphides. You will investigate and optimise their optical and electrical properties using state-of-the-art characterisation techniques, and explore their application as hetero-contacts in high-efficiency photovoltaic devices including silicon and silicon-perovskite tandem solar cells.

You will join a large group of over 20 researchers within the silicon materials group at ANU, and be part of a collaborative team environment, with direct mentorship from supervisors who are leading experts in the field. Photovoltaics research at ANU is at the global cutting edge, spanning the entire spectrum of solar electricity technologies – from solar forecasting, to fabricating high-efficiency photovoltaic cells, to integrating renewables with storage capacity into the grid. Our silicon materials group is a world leader in silicon photovoltaic device characterisation and fabrication. We develop the next generation of advanced characterisation and materials technology for high efficiency silicon solar cells and modules. New technologies across the entire production chain - covering silicon ingots, wafers, cells and modules - are being developed to address key barriers to further improvements in the performance and cost of silicon photovoltaics. Our partners are the world’s leading silicon materials and device characterisation experts, from both academia and industry, and spanning across the globe. Many of our research outcomes have been successfully commercialised through our industry partners.

The PhD will be undertaken in our state-of-the-art laboratories, making use of our advanced fabrication and characterisation facilities. Specifically, in this project you will work extensively with our newly installed materials deposition cluster, including a brand new, state-of-the-art ALD system. The project will offer an excellent training environment which will equip you to pursue a career in materials research in industry or academia, as well as with the analytical and problem-solving skills to excel in any field.


Please check the ANU HDR admission requirements (self-assessment here).

Background Literature

Melskens et al., Passivating Contacts for Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells: From Concepts and Materials to Prospects, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics 8, 373 (2018). [Link]


Solar cells, Nanotechnology, Materials

Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing