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Electronic Materials and Devices

Electronic Materials and Devices Research Group

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Head of Group:
Prof Sir Michael Pepper
Group Members:
Dr Neil Curson
Dr Jeroen Elzerman
Prof Richard Jackman
Dr Anthony Kenyon
Dr John Morton
Dr Ioannis Papakonstantinou
Dr Ed Romans
Dr Paul Warburton
Visiting Professors:
Prof A Ramirez (Bell Labs, Murray Hill)
Prof S Parkin (IBM Almaden)
Prof Glenn Tyrrell

Much of the EMD Group research is driven by the following fundamental technological questions:

  • How can the spectacular performance of Si integrated circuits be sustained as fundamental physical limitations arise?
  • What alternative electronic device technologies can achieve performance specifications which exceed the capabilities of Si?

Since the gate length of today’s silicon MOS devices are as small as 150 nm, addressing these issues necessarily requires expertise in all aspects of Nanotechnology – from nanofabrication using photon, ion and electron beams to self-assembly of organic molecular monolayers, to the coherent quantum properties of nanoclusters. The EMD plays a key role in the London Centre for Nanotechnology, a joint UCL – Imperial College collaboration with over £19M of infrastructure funding. This has led to collaboration with scientists from an increasingly diverse range of disciplines, including not only physicists and materials scientists, but also clinical medics and biopharmacologists.

EMD has a flourishing & diverse portfolio of areas technological excellence including:

  • Ultra-Violet Processing of Ultrathin Films, in particular silicon dioxide and also high k layers, such as tantalum and hafnium oxides - materials for use as gate oxides in future Si MOSFET generations.
  • Josephson Junctions: High-T superconductors for ultra-sensitive magnetic/electric field sensors
  • Diamond Electronics, especially diamond-like carbon for use in high temperature environments and ultra-violet electronics applications where the higher bandgap of diamond is required.
  • Dynamical Control Systems for process control in the biopharmaceuticals and other industries.
  • Silicon Vacuum Electronics for sensor and field-emission display technologies.
  • Si Nanoclusters: Exploitation of quantum effects for prototype quantum computers.

The group have been a central founding partner of the London Centre for Nanotechnology(LCN), are also very active in the Centre for Micro Biochemical Engineering and are co-investigating development programmes to fundamentally change many biopharmaceutical processes. A strong involvement exists with the joint Imperial College/UCL Centre for Process Systems Engineering in industrial monitoring and control.

Over the years, the group achieved top ratings in the RAE exercise. The average expenditure/member over the 6 years up to 2001 was £45k/annum, and the total number of publications was 318 (>50 per member – the highest in the department). Already, from 2001-2004, the total amount of the funding obtained already exceeds that for the previous 6 years. Future strategy includes, as follows:

  • Development of new fully operational 220m2 clean room facility in the LCN.
  • Taking a lead role in specification, installation, and management of Focused Ion Beam (FIB), Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) Plasma processing equipment, electrical characterisation, etc
  • Investigation of new materials and strategies for semiconducting, superconducting and magnetic devices, switches, Josephson junctions, and memories.
  • Exploration of new growth systems for diamond, black diamond, and other carbon-based structures, including nanotubes, and polymers for a wide range of novel applications and heterostructure devices.
  • Development of new deep ultraviolet light sources for applications into large area low temperature processing, of high k materials and other advanced oxides.
  • Analysis of nonlinearities of plasma harmonics and sideband noise which are uniquely related to dynamic complex impedance and chemistry.
  • Exploration of new control and monitoring applications, modeling predictive controllers, and root cause diagnosis and advanced cause and effect reasoning
  • Study of single atom rare-earth doped materials and nanoclusters for telecomms (optical amplification, and photodetection) and quantum computing.
  • Characterisation of light emission from dislocations in Si and SiGe: in particular, control using impurity ion emission
  • Labelling of biological molecules, self-organisation of metallic and/or semiconductor nanowires.