In general, we have openings for Masters students, please feel free to apply.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Masters thesis in a joint research project at UZH and EMPA

W1-xTixO3 alloys for photo-electrochemical (PEC) water splitting applications

We are looking for a motivated Masters student with a background in materials science or chemistry for a Masters thesis on metal alloy oxide-heterostructures for water splitting applications.

Scope of the project:

There are many ways to harness solar energy. One promising method is the generation of hydrogen fuel by means of photo-electrochemical (PEC) water splitting, a potential solution for the energy storage concern associated with most sustainable energy sources. While PEC has been successfully demonstrated for many material systems, the overall efficiency should be increased to become a competitive source of renewable energy. Many different approaches are being investigated to increase the water splitting efficiency. It is generally understood that developing an efficient anode material requires simultaneous control of the energy level alignment, the electronic band structure, the morphology and the stability.

In order to study the interplay of the band gap and the band alignment, we will investigate alloys of the prototypical model systems TiO2 and WO3. Both materials have been intensely studies for PEC applications. While the energy level alignment of WO3 is non-ideal, the smaller band gap allows it to absorb a larger fraction of the solar spectrum. Alloys of these materials could combine the benefits of a suitable energy level alignment as well as a reduced bandgap to absorb lower energy photons.

Oxide alloys with useful functionality can be created by non-equilibrium physical vapor deposition (PVD) techniques in oxygen rich environments. However these techniques are limited in scalability and practicality for industrial production processes. In this Masters thesis, we will investigate to what extent oxide alloys can be produced by anodization and thermal oxidation of metal W1-xTix alloys. The synthesis as well as the structural and compositional analysis of the materials will be carried out at EMPA with supervision by experienced scientists, and the practicality of the materials for PEC applications will be investigated at the University of Zurich.

Interested candidates can contact either:

Prof. Dr. David Tilley (david.tilley@chem.uzh.ch) or Dr. Sebastian Siol (sebastian.siol@empa.ch)