Defects in silicon solar cells (PhD/MPhil project)


Photovoltaics (to generate electricity from sunlight) is projected to become the single largest energy source before 2040, according to International Energy Agency, the worlds leading energy authority. Silicon-based solar panels currently account for 95% of the photovoltaic market. A key challenge for the clean energy transition is to further improve the performance and reduce the cost of photovoltaic devices (i.e. solar cells).

The electronic quality of the silicon materials critically determines the solar cell performance. The project focuses on understanding and removing key defects in the silicon materials used for solar cells. You will carry out a range of experiments to characterise the defects, reveal their properties and behaviours in silicon solar cells, and in turn devise methods to remove or treat them.

The project will be largely experimental. You will enjoy world-class research facilities and work with leading experts in the field. You will be expected to publish high-quality journal papers and present at international conferences. The project provides a perfect training ground for a future career in materials science and engineering in academia or industry.


Prospective students graduated or expecting to graduate with degrees in Engineering, Physics, Materials Science, or related disciplines, with a GPA above 8 out of 10, or 3.5 out of 4.0, or high distinction (HD), or equivalent are invited to apply.

However, to be competitive for a scholarship, international students will need to have outstanding GPA rankings within their departments (usually the top 5%, preferably top 2%).

If interested, please send an email directly to Dr AnYao Liu ( with the following information:

  • Your background and experience.
  • GPA / Result of each degree, as well as your transcript.
  • If possible, an estimation of your GPA ranking within the department. For example: 5th out of 400, top 1%, etc.
  • Details of any publications, along with DOI links.
  • List of any other relevant research achievements.
  • When you expect to start your PhD if successful.

Attachments: CV, academic transcripts, and any additional information (e.g. awards).

We are looking forward to seeing outstanding candidates joining our group.


We are offering to support your PhD candidacy for a competitive scholarship application in the field of photovoltaics at the Australian National University (ANU). For the successful applicant, the scholarship fully covers the university tuition fees and research expenses, and provides an additional allowance to cover living costs for up to 3.5 years:
- Living allowance: ~AUD$ 34,000 per year (2023 rate, increases every year), tax free
- Conference travel allowance: AUD$ 6,000 during PhD
- Relocation allowance: up to AUD$ 2,500

In case your scholarship application is unsuccessful, there may be options to provide alternative funding from upcoming research projects.

Anyao Liu
Gettering cartoon on Solar RRL