Professor Chris McNeill

Professor Chris McNeill

Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
ARC Future Fellow
VESKI Innovation Fellow
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Room 107, 20 Research Way, Clayton

Chris McNeill is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. He graduated with a PhD in experimental physics from the University of Newcastle and then spent nearly 6 years at the University of Cambridge where he was an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow. He returned to Australia to Monash University in 2011 supported by an ARC Future Fellowship and veski innovation fellowship. Since joining Monash University in 2011 he has been promoted to Associate Professor (2014) and Full Professor (2018). He is also a Fellow of both the Institute of Physics (UK) and the Australian Institute of Physics. His research interests include organic semiconductors, perovskite solar cells and synchrotron science. He is particularly interested in the intersection between the device physics and microstructure of solution-processed semiconductor devices and has expertise in a range of synchrotron X-ray techniques. He has graduated over 10 PhD students as primary supervisor and was awarded the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision in 2018.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), The University of Newcastle
  • B.Sc. (Hons I), The University of Newcastle
  • B. Math, The University of Newcastle

Expertise

Organic semiconductors, Polymer Solar Cells, Organic Field-Effect Transistors, Polymer Physics, Perovskite Solar cells, Synchrotron Science

Editorial

Member of Scientific Advisory Panel of Energy & Environment Science.

Member of Scientific Advisory Panel of Sustainable Energy & Fuels.

Professional Memberships

Fellow, Institute of Physics (UK)

Fellow, Australian Institute of Physics

Research Interests

Organic Semiconductors, Polymer Solar Cells, Organic Field-Effect Transistors, Perovskite Solar Cells, Synchrotron Science, X-ray Scattering

Research Projects

Current projects

Aggregation control for high-performance polymer electronics

This Project aims to exploit the behaviour of semiconducting polymer chains in solution to realise high performance
polymer electronics; this will be achieved via a combination of simulation, theory, and X-ray measurements of solution-phase chain conformation and device studies. The project expects to create new predictive understanding of how the self organisation of semiconducting polymer chains determines thin-film microstructure and thus charge transport in thin-film devices. Expected outcomes include new materials and processes for high-performance polymer transistors and enhanced interdisciplinary research partnerships. This approach should hasten the development of new technologies based on lightweight flexible electronic devices. This project is supported by the Australian Research Council, Discovery Project DP190102100.

Bringing All-Polymer Solar Cells Closer to Commercialization

Organic solar cells have the potential for low-cost fabrication through solution-based high-throughput roll-to-roll processsing. While a number of organic photovoltaic (OPV) technologies have been in development for a number of years now, issues including scalability and stability have hindered commercialisation. So-called “all-polymer” solar cells – that use semiconducting polymer for both the electron donating and electron accepting components – are attractive since they are more processable and potentially more stable than other OPV technologies. All-polymer solar cells have had their own challenges including morphological control and lower efficiencies, however recent work has indicated that these issues may soon be overcome. This project combines the expertise of researchers at Monash, Flinders, and Macquarie Universities to advance the development of all-polymer solar cells by targeting the key issues of scalability and stability. Materials with ease of synthesis and the ability to be processed in green solvents will be developed to ensure high-throughput manufacture is matched with cost-effective materials. Microstructural studies will also be performed to understand the processes that enable optimal and stable microstructures to be created. This work will bring low-cost polymer solar cells closer to commercial reality. This project is funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, grant 2017/RND004.

Low-temperature studies of polymer solar cells

The record power conversion efficiency of polymer solar cells continues to rise, climbing to over 15% in recent years. Our understanding of the underlying device physics is still limited, in particular what is limiting cell open-circuit voltage in new high-efficiency systems. This projects seeks to advance fundamental knowledge of the device physics of high-performance polymer solar cells by studying the temperature dependence of device behaviour. Utilising a low-temperature optical cryostat, device parameters will be evaluated down to liquid nitrogen temperatures to discern the relevant device physics governing solar cell operation.

X-ray scattering of reduced-dimension photovoltaic perovskites

Hybrid metal-halide perovskites have garnered a lot of attention in recent years since with record power conversion efficiencies now at ~25%. The moisture and thermal stability of such perovskite materials has been a concern, and new materials are being developed to combat these challenges. One approach is the development of photovoltaic Ruddleston-Popper perovskites where larger organic molecules are incorporated into the material that ‘slice’ the 3D perovskite into 2D sheets. Our understanding of the nature of these reduced 2D phases has largely come from optical measurements, with little in-depth analysis of the X-ray diffraction and 2D grazing incidence scattering patterns. The project seeks understand what we can learn about such reduced-dimension phases from X-ray measurements combining lab-based X-ray diffraction and synchrotron-based grazing incidence wide-angle scattering.

Large Area Opto-Electronics (LAOE) for Australia and India

Semiconductor-based technologies are vital for the developed and developing world and are the engines of electronics used in our daily lives. Large Area Opto-electronic (LAOE) organic semiconductors are a rapidly evolving technology because of their unique features such as low embedded energy manufacturing, efficiency, and environmental friendliness. Australian and Indian scientists, and industry, will advance LAOE into the commercial arena in the areas of OLED lighting and photo-sensors. This project is funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, grant AISRF 53765.

Past projects

Utilising anisotropic thermal expansion in organic semiconductor thin films

This proposal seeks to capitalise upon the recent discovery of negative thermal expansion in high performance organic semiconductor films. Due to the chemical structure of certain molecules that have a planar conjugated core and flexible sidechains, highly anisotropic thermal expansion occurs with most of thermal expansion taken up by the sidechains. In certain circumstances a negative thermal expansion occurs with the pi-pi stacking distance decreasing upon annealing. This effect has been linked with higher charge mobilities, with a tighter molecular packing being locked in upon cooling. Combining chemical synthesis and materials science, this proposal seeks to exploit this effect to create a new generation of high performance materials. This project was supported by the Australian Research Council, Discovery Project DP170102145.

Unravelling structure-function relationships in high mobility donor-acceptor co-polymers

A new generation of high-mobility semiconducting polymers has emerged in recent years whose molecular structure consists of alternating electron-rich and electron-poor units. The origin of the high mobility of these donor-acceptor co-polymers is unclear. Through strategic collaboration with polymer chemists and the use of advanced microstructural characterisation this project seeks to understand from the molecular to the mesoscopic the structural factors responsible for imparting the functionality of these materials. The knowledge gained will facilitate informed molecular engineering to enable the development of low-cost, printed devices based on organic field-effect transistors such as flexible displays, smart cards and sensors. This project was supported by the Australian Research Council, Discovery Project DP130102616.

Nanostructuring and nanocharacterisation of organic semiconductor devices

The objective of the proposed work is to utilise nanoimprint lithography, a scalable and manufacturable technology, for the fabrication of polymer photovoltaic devices with controlled morphologies for decoupling of the influences of morphology and materials properties. Nanoimprint lithography will also be used to nanostructure electrodes for enhanced light absorption via coupling of incident light to surface plasmon modes. This programme will also continue the development and exploitation of advanced techniques based on soft x-rays for the characterisation of organic semiconductor films important for understanding the link between film microstructure and the operation of devices such as organic field-effect transistors. This project was supported by the Australian Research Council, Future Fellowship FT100100275.

Ultrafast Science Facility: manipulating and probing matter on fs timescales with microscopic resolution

Knowledge of dynamics that occur on femtosecond timescales is essential for a detailed understanding of many important processes in physics, chemistry and biology. This facility will enable unprecendented insight into the mechanisms driving such processes through complementary capabilities to manioulate and probe transfer, efficient operation of organic electronics redox reactions in biological systems and the manipulation of material properties by intense fs-laser pulses. the unique capabilities of this facility will also allow the development of novel device structures and the limits of the characterisation techniques to be pushed. This project was supported by the Australian Research Council, LIEF grant LE140100162.

Research articles, papers & publications

Prof. McNeill’s publications can be accessed via the following Google Scholar and Publons profiles:

https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=wLLnGZMAAAAJ&hl=en

https://publons.com/researcher/1392975/christopher-r-mcneill/

 

 

Teaching Commitments

  • MTE4572 - Polymer and composite processing and engineering
  • MTE5882 - Advanced polymeric materials
  • MTE5884 - Materials for energy technologies
Last modified: 16/05/2020