Energy Harvesting for Autonomous Systems

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    Cardiff University
    United Kingdom
    Natural sciences


The Internet of Things (IoT) is an exciting global megatrend and UK government priority area, which if to be realised, requires the development of a number of key enabling technologies with potentially huge scientific and market value. As part of the Future Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Hub (CS Hub) we are working with academic and industrial partners to enable development of interconnected systems for the IoT. A key part of the vision of the IoT is the large number of autonomous sensors relaying information back through the web. To be truly autonomous a sensor must be able to derive energy from the environment to perform the sensing action and to relay the information back to the connected system.

This project will focus on the mechanisms by which communications based on light emission by LEDs or lasers can be powered by energy harvested from the environment. The student will develop understanding of compound semiconductor heterostructure devices and the absorption and emission of radiation, the change and exchange of energy and entropy in such a system, design a laser or LED powered by the heat and light available in the environment, fabricating such a device and demonstrating communication of information at some level.

The project will follow a flexible timeline with completion feasible within 4 years including 0.5 year contingency. The first year will include a literature study and the development of suitable experimental and computational skills. The remainder of the PhD will include device development, device demonstrations and assessment and completion of the thesis. The student will integrate fully with the CS Hub research team comprising post-doctoral research associates, technicians and senior staff at Cardiff University, and make use of Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) facilities.

Candidates should have a strong background and interest in Optics/Photonics, Thermal Physics and Semiconductor Physics


1. S. Chen, W. Li, J. Wu, Q. Jiang, M. Tang, S. Shutts, S.N. Elliott, A. Sobiesierski, A. Seeds, I. Ross, P.M. Smowton, H. Liu. “Electrically pumped continuous-wave III–V quantum dot lasers on silicon.” Nature Photonics 10, pp. 307-311. (2016) (10.1038/nphoton.2016.21). Impact Factor 38.

2. H. Baig, Siviter J, Li W, Paul MC, Montecucco A, Rolley M, Sweet TKN, Gao M, Mullen PA, Fernandez EF, Han G, Gregory DH, Knox AR, Mallick T. “Conceptual design and performance evaluation of a hybrid concentrating photovoltaic system in preparation for energy.” Energy 147, pp. 547-560 (2018) (10.1016/j.energy.2017.12.127). Impact Factor 5.582.

What is funded

Self-Funded PhD Students Only

This PhD position is opening for self-funded student only, which means the candidate with own funding to cover the living cost and tuition fees will be considered.


4 years full-time.


Candidates should hold a good bachelor’s degree (first or upper second-class honours degree) or a MSc degree in Physics or a related subject.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent)

How to Apply

Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University webpages (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/program...) including:

• an upload of your CV

• a personal statement/covering letter

• two references

• Current academic transcripts

Applicants should select Doctor of Philosophy, with a start date of January 2021

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select the ’self -funding’ option.


The responsibility for the funding offers published on this website, including the funding description, lies entirely with the publishing institutions. The application is handled uniquely by the employer, who is also fully responsible for the recruitment and selection processes.