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Durham University

Centre for Materials Physics


Wurtzite structure


The Advanced Inorganic Materials research group (formerly the semiconductors and ceramics group) carries out a variety of work on thin film semiconductors, with particular focus on semiconductors used for photovoltaics (PV). In particular a large part of the work in the group is on II-VI materials such as CdTe for solar cells.

We are also carrying out research into the preparation and measurement of various electroceramic materials for humidity sensors and thermistors (both negative and positive temperature coefficient materials).

New research in the group is based around the investigation of Gallium Nitride and Indium Gallium Nitride quantum well structures using simultaneous cathodoluminescence and scanning transmission electron microscopy. For further information please contact Dr Douglas Halliday.

Research interests

  1. Polycrystalline solar cells (explanation of principle)

  2. Bulk CdTe and (Cd,Zn)Te crystal growth

  3. Electroceramics

  4. The EPSRC Supergen solar cell project 'PV-21' (navigates away from the Centre for Materials Physics)

  5. Electron microscopy of II-VIs (navigates away from the Centre for Materials Physics)

1. Polycrystalline solar cells

This research group is well known for work on the characterisation of efficiency limiting effects in thin film solar cells. You can find out more by looking at our publications page, searching the published litertature or by contacting Dr Douglas Halliday, the solar cell materials group leader.

Paul Edwards has produced an introductory tutorial for some of the concepts of thin film solar cells.

2. Bulk CdTe and (Cd,Zn)Te crystal growth

The experimental CdTe vapour growth kit at Durham.

The experimental CdTe vapour growth kit at Durham.

Multi-tube vapour transport growth of CdTe. The method is also used to grow (Cd,Zn)Te. For further information please contact Dr Douglas Halliday.

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Spinel structure

Spinel structure: NiMn2O4

3. Electroceramics

Ceramic materials are polycrystalline, nonmetallic inorganic substances prepared by solid state chemical reaction followed by a sintering process at elevated temperatures.

Electroceramics are ceramic materials with a certain fixed electrical property, e.g. insulators, ferroelectric materials, highly conductive ceramics, electrodes, etc. According to the chemical composition of the monophase compound electroceramic can be oxide or nonoxide (nitride, boride, carbide, etc.). Oxide electroceramics are the ones most often used for producing sensors, electrodes and electronic devices. 

According to their composition, oxide electroceramics can be subdivided into:

  • single oxides
  • two or more oxides (often refered to as binary, ternary, .... systems)

The various single and complex oxides can combine to form solid solutions which are of great interest.

Electroceramic research at Durham is mainly focused on electrical properties of ternary and higher complex systems and could be divided broadly into the following areas:

  • highly conductive ceramics
  • rechargeable batteries electrodes
  • superconductors
  • electrochromic materials
  • humidity sensors

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