Belgium: PhD Position in Material Science

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PhD-position in Material Science on “Phase-Field Modeling of Sintering and Interdiffusion Phenomena in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 Thin-film Solar Cells”

Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering (MTM), K.U. Leuven, Belgium

Nele Moelans, Jef Vleugels

Type of position:
PhD scholarship

Duration: 4 years, starting from September 1, 2010

Today, electric power generation by solar energy conversion using photovoltaic (PV) cells is still five to ten times more expensive than conventional forms of electricity generation. To become of commercial interest, the currently most common production route of photovoltaic cells with vacuum deposition and high temperature processing must be replaced by wet deposition combined with a mild sintering step. In the latter approach, first a precursor layer is deposited on the glass + Mo substrate which is subsequently transformed into a CIGS (Cu(In,Ga)Se2) film during annealing at 400-600 °C.
The main purposes of the PhD are (1) to model and simulate the sintering processes, interdiffusion and grain coarsening in the CIGS layer during the annealing step using the phase-field technique, and (2) obtain a systematic understanding in the effect of certain material and process parameters on the final microstructure of the CIGS absorber layer by means of phase-field simulations. The simulations will be performed on the Flemish Supercomputer ( We have large experience in phase-field modeling in the research group (see and and a parallel implementation on the Flemish Supercomputer for large scale simulation of grain growth is available. One of the tasks during the PhD will be to extend this implementation with a model for diffusion and rigid body motion necessary for annealing and sintering simulations of the CIGS layer.

SIM project “SOPPOM – Solution based processing of photovoltaic modules”, in which several Flemish Universities, research institutes and industrial partners are involved. The modeling and simulation work will be performed in close collaboration with experimentalists within the project; there will be exchange of information continuously throughout the project.

Contact: nele.moelans[ at ]

Or apply for this project on this page

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