Spectroscopy and device physics of molecular semiconductors for next generation organic solar cells.

Learn about a research opportunity exploring new ways to make and understand organic semiconductors – for applications like cheaper solar cells or LEDs

Project Description

Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) promise a step-change in solar technology, with potential to provide cheaper, more flexible, and more customisable solar panels compared to current technology. For the last few decades, the working principles of these devices have been governed by the ‘bulk heterojunction’ design, which is an interpenetrating network of two materials blended together to split excitons apart into free charges. This design has helped OPV efficiencies increase in the past, but has also held back research progress due to the huge added complexity, and inherent efficiency limits associated with which it is associated.

We recently discovered that in the most efficient class of organic materials - non-fullerene small molecule electron acceptors - free charges, rather than excitons, can be directly photogenerated without a donor:acceptor interface, see:

  • Price, Hume, et al. Nature Communications, 2022, 13, 2827

With this breakthrough, we have the opportunity to create efficient OPV devices without the need for a bulk heterojunction. Instead, we will create organic ‘p-n’ homojunction devices.

Using advanced spectroscopy techniques – both steady-state absorption and photoluminescence, and ultrafast transient absorption and time-resolved photoluminescence spectroscopy – we will characterise doped films of small molecules. We will then use those characterisations to design and fabricate new solar cells, and help provide a new roadmap for the development of organic electronics.


We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record and a good understanding of physical chemistry, materials science, or experimental physics. Experience in spectroscopy, materials characterisation or optoelectronic device research is considered favourably. Applicants should have a Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or Engineering degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or postgraduate diploma. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Te Herenga Waka —Victoria University of Wellington.

Funding Information

The scholarship provides a non-taxed stipend of NZ$33,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.


To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: michael.price@vuw.ac.nz with “PhD OPV” in the subject line.