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Structural dynamics in electrically-stressed amorphous oxides

Closing Date for Applications: 31 May 2016

Supervisors: Prof. Anthony Kenyon, Prof. Alexander Shluger (UCL), Dr. Michel Bosman, Dr. Sean O’Shea (IMRE, A*STAR, Singapore)

Start Date: September 2016

Location: London (1.5 years), Singapore (2 years)

Topics: amorphous sub-stoichiometric oxides, in situ STM and high resolution TEM studies, computational modelling of structural dynamics in electrically-stressed amorphous oxides, resistive random access memories.

The Studentship
This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR Collaborative Programme via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (M3S CDT) at UCL. The student will be registered for a PhD at UCL where he/she will spend year 1 and the first six months of year 4. The second and third years of the PhD will be spent at the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore. The Studentship will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a maintenance stipend £16,057 (tax free) pro rata in years 1 and 4. During years 2 and 3, the student will receive a full stipend directly from A*STAR. In addition, A*STAR will provide the student with one-off relocation allowance.
Please note that, due to funding restrictions, only UK/EU citizens are eligible for this studentship.

The Project
Many key technologies increasingly rely on thin film amorphous or nanocrystalline sub-stoichiometric functional oxides. These include complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) devices, catalysts, gas sensors, transparent flexible thin-film transistors, and solar cells among others. The behaviour of these disordered and inhomogeneous oxides under electrical stress is poorly understood and presents formidable challenges to experimentalists and theorists alike. This interdisciplinary PhD project aims to develop a better understanding of the detailed mechanism of oxygen movement in electrically-stressed oxides. Using
both experimental and theoretical methods we aim to characterise the movement of oxygen in SiOx under sub-breakdown electrical stress via: 1) Modelling of the migration of both oxygen vacancies and oxygen ions in SiOx and at metal/SiOx and Si/SiOx interfaces; 2) In situ STM-TEM studies of oxygen transport, formation of sub-oxide clusters, and both reversible and irreversible changes in silicon-rich oxide structures. Fundamental knowledge of device structure and electrical properties developed by a combination of experimental electrical measurements and computer simulations at UCL will be combined with novel STM-TEM studies of imaging structural changes within the silicon oxides during electrical stressing at IMRE in Singapore. The student will therefore have a chance to acquire hands-on experience in state-of-the-art oxide film growth and electrical characterisation techniques, Scanning Tunnelling and Transmission Electron Microscopy and ab initio computer modelling.

The Candidate
The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve a 1st or 2:1 class integrated Masters degree (MEng, MSci, MChem etc.) in Electronic Engineering, Physics, Materials Science, or a related discipline. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good experimental practice and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good computer skills, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided.

Please contact Prof. Anthony Kenyon ( or Prof. Alexander Shluger ( for further details or to express an interest.

Applications will be accepted until 31 May 2016 or until a suitable candidate is found.