Quantum Nanotechnology

We are a collaborative community of researchers interested in the development, study and exploitation of quantum phenomena, nanostructured materials and nanoscale devices.

Research Activities

Quantum Transport

We study quantum devices through low-temperature electronic transport measurements. Our goal is control at the level of single charge, single flux quantum, single photon and single phonon, enabled by fundamental physical phenomena such as superconductivity, the Josephson effect, flux and charge quantisation, and quantum entanglement.

The ability to control and measure quantum states in nanoscale solid-state devices makes them a promising platform for new quantum technologies. Applications include quantum computing and quantum simulation, quantum encryption, quantum metrology, and novel sensors operating beyond the standard quantum limit.

Work within this activity includes:

  • Quantum Metrology
    Superconducting and hybrid charge pumps for accurate definitions of the ampere.
  • Graphene & 2D Materials
    Transport phenomena in 2D materials including hydrodynamic flow and the superconducting proximity effect.
  • Ultralow temperature thermometry and devices
    Developing the techniques required to undertake quantum transport measurements at electron temperatures below 1 millikelvin.
  • Semiconductors
    Transport properties of narrow band-gap semiconductor heterostructures and nanostructures.
  • Nanoelectromechanics
    Using nanoscale cantilevers to probe properties of quantum fluids.

Group Members

  • Professor Yuri Pashkin
  • Professor Rich Haley
  • Professor Manus Hayne
  • Dr Sergey Kafanov
  • Dr Leonid Ponomarenko
  • Dr Jon Prance
  • Dr Viktor Tsepelin
Quantum Transport

Semiconductor Nanostructures and Quantum Devices

Research involves the design, fabrication and characterisation of novel quantum devices that exploit the properties of III-V compound semiconductor nanostructures such as quantum dots, nanowires, quantum wells and superlattices.

A key aspect of our research is the use of advanced epitaxial growth including:

  • narrow band-gap semiconductors, such as GaSb, InAs and InSb
  • self-assembled and site-controlled nanostructures
  • droplet epitaxy
  • hydrogenation of semiconductors
  • dilute nitrides
  • mismatched materials with atomically abrupt interfaces on GaAs and silicon substrates

We are developing a variety of photonic and electronic devices including:

  • mid-infrared LEDs and lasers for environmental gas sensing
  • solar cells and thermo-photovoltaic devices for renewable energy generation
  • GaSb quantum ring lasers for telecommunications
  • low-noise photodetectors for focal plane arrays and thermal imaging
  • low-voltage non-volatile memories

Our research is frequently carried out in collaboration with industry partners including IQE, CST, Amethyst, SELEX, Huawei and others, as well as many academic groups worldwide.

Group Members

  • Professor Tony Krier
  • Professor Manus Hayne
  • Professor Robert Young
  • Dr Andrew Marshall
  • Dr Qian Zhuang
Semiconductor Nanostructures and Quantum Devices

Nanostructured Materials and Surfaces

We explore physical phenomena in advanced materials at the micron, nano and atomic scale. Our activities range from the development of functional ‘smart’ surfaces realised via novel molecular self-assembly methods, to nanoscale device characterisation, atomic resolution imaging, instrument development and biomaterial analysis. 

We develop new materials with targeted chemical, electrical, thermal and catalytic properties such as self-assembled molecular networks and novel 2D material – organic film heterostructures fabricated using a wide range of atomically precise molecular assembly techniques and spanning environments from highly controlled ultra-high vacuum conditions to liquid-phase molecular self-assembly and Langmuir-Blodgett deposition.

Underpinning this research are a wide range of characterisation methods and a long-standing interest in novel instrument development.  Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) is unparalleled in its ability to provide spatial resolution at the atomic and nanoscale.  Our suite of SPM instruments is dedicated to high-resolution imaging, nanomechanical mapping, electrical measurement and scanning thermal microscopy, which we combine with optical spectroscopy, high-speed interferometry, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, synchrotron radiation studies and electronic structure calculation providing access to the full spectrum of materials properties. 

Group Members

  • Professor Oleg Kolosov
  • Dr Sam Jarvis
  • Dr Benjamin Robinson
Nanostructured Materials and Surfaces

Quantum Security

Our research straddles three main disciplines: material science, quantum optics and information security. Through the hybridisation of these fields, we are driving a unique research activity; investigating the application of light-matter interfaces in low-dimensional structures for physical security applications.

Research is divided into the following themes:

  • Developing components for optical quantum information processing (QIP) using low-dimensional semiconductor structures. The scalability and low-cost of semiconductor systems make them ideal for producing scalable quantum technologies.
  • Harnessing the unique properties of nanostructures embedded in devices for identity provision and authentication. At the atomic level no two objects are identical. We're developing technologies that produce east-to-read signatures based on this uniqueness, for security applications.
  • Quantum light emission from heterostructures of two-dimensional materials, and associated applications. Solid-state lighting and two-dimensional materials were both the subject of recent Nobel prizes in physics. The combination of the two is driving an exciting research field. 

Group Members

  • Professor Robert Young
  • Professor Manus Hayne
  • Dr Benjamin Robinson
Quantum Security

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Quantum Nanotechnology

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Publications

Current PhD Opportunities

  • Novel compound-semiconductor memory cells

    An ultimate or ‘universal’ memory concept is one that combines the best features of DRAM and Flash, i.e. is non-volatile, low-voltage, non-destructively read, fast, cheap and high endurance. Implemented as RAM, such a memory would allow instantly on/off boot-free computers with unprecedented reductions in power consumption for mobile devices and computers. We have recently demonstrated the room-temperature operation of non-volatile, low-voltage, compound-semiconductor memory cells with a non-destructive read that has the potential to fulfil all the requirements of universal memory (patent pending). A project is currently available that will form part of this unique and exciting on-going research programme, with a particular focus on shrinking memory cells to the nanoscale.

    Supervisor

    Professor Manus Hayne

  • Compound semiconductor nanowires and hybrids for advanced photonics and nanoelectronics

    The project will develop advanced III-V nanowires on silicon and 2D materials by molecular beam epitaxy and explore the device applications in next-generation photodetectors, fully functional silicon photonic circuits, ultra-fast nanoelectronics and spitronics.

    Supervisor

    Dr Quian Zhuang

  • Site-controlled epitaxial quantum dots for quantum optics

    The project aims to develop high quality positioned quantum dot via droplet epitaxy and to explore the application in quantum optics.

    Supervisor

    Dr Quian Zhuang

  • 3D architectures for molecular electronics – 3D-ME

    Background

    This is a joint proposal from two 50th Anniversary lecturers in Physics and the Materials Science Institute to establish a completely new paradigm for the bottom-up growth of complex nanostructured layers targeting the ultimate level of miniaturisation in data storage and processing.

    The incoming student will enjoy a stimulating research environment joining a combined research team comprising two senior research associates, four PhD students and three Master’s students. The supervisors (BR and SJ) have an extremely strong track record in producing high impact publications, both as first authors and collaboratively. For example, a recent joint paper published in ACS Nano, 2017, 11 (3), pp 3404–3412 (IF 13.9) partly provides the platform on which this project is based. The student will have access to a wide range of experimental facilities including Lancaster’s molecular thin film fabrication capabilities and a suite of state-of-the-art scanning probe microscopes - housed in the newly commissioned £2m IsoLab ultra-low-noise facility - to explore the nanoscale topographical, mechanical and electrical transport properties in functional ultra-thin film structures. The student will be supported by a growing portfolio of funding including recent awards of £470k (BJR) and £122k (SPJ) from the EPSRC and Royal Society, respectively. We expect the student working on this project will publish multiple publications in leading journals, with at least one as the first author, and commensurate conference presentations.

    Background

    For most high-tech applications we make things better by making them smaller. By decreasing the gap between components on a computer processor we make calculations faster and by decreasing the size and separation of LED’s we make televisions thinner and more defined. Typically this has been achieved by ‘top-down’ lithographic approaches which still dominates industrial production but are hugely expensive, for example, it is estimated that for Intel to move from the 22nm to 14nm node for silicon chips the fabrication facility cost was at least $8.5 billion plus another $2 billion-plus for research and development. The design of the circuit layout alone is estimated to cost more than $300 million. 

    Increasingly attention is shifting to radically different approaches for the fabrication of functional devices, whereby tailored materials comprising nanoscale building blocks are assembled ‘from the bottom up’ akin to the building of molecular-Lego.

    This project

    This PhD project is truly interdisciplinary sitting at the interface of synthetic chemistry, quantum physics and device engineering, with a significant cross-over into areas traditionally in the field of data science. The aim of the project is to explore new methods for the scalable fabrication of ultrathin organic films with tailored quantum interference properties and tuneable electrode interactions. Traditionally, organic layers are formed from solution phase deposition via techniques such as molecular self-assembly or Langmuir-Blodgett deposition. Here you will use newly established UHV capabilities in Physics to explore sublimation deposition, the direct transition from a solid to gas phase without passing through the intermediate liquid phase, of a range of tailored organic materials. Broadly the PhD project will:

    • Develop a new capability to deposit and subsequently couple multiple layers of organic and inorganic materials onto the surface of a range of metal and 2D material substrates. This approach to multi-layer asymmetric chemical assembly is highly novel.
    • The nanoscale properties of these films will be characterised in-situ in IsoLab using a suite of custom scanning probe microscopy systems to access nanoscale mechanical, electrical and topographical information with sub-molecular resolution.
    • Understand the detailed physics and chemistry of these materials with advanced simulation methods performed on Lancaster’s High-End Computing (HEC) facility.  Carried out concurrently to experiments, a simulation will be used to drive and inform ongoing experiments.

    Supervisors

    • Dr Benjamin Robinson
    • Dr Sam Jarvis
  • Experimental exploration of thermal and electrical phenomena in nanostructures of Van der Waals materials.

    The project targets the explanation of recently discovered extreme thermoelectric phenomena in nanostructures 2D (Van der Waals) materials such as graphene, and transition metal dichalcogenides and their heterostructures. A state-of-the-art experimental suite is available at Physics Department in collaboration with the National Graphene Institute to explore novel physical phenomena in these advanced materials. 

    Supervisor

    Professor Oleg Kolosov

  • Fabrication and Characterization of Mid-infrared LEDs based on Pentanary Nanostructures using Digital Alloys

    A number of different approaches are currently being investigated for the fabrication of efficient Mid-infrared 2–5 µm light-emitting diodes LEDs. These devices are of interest because they could be used in instrumentation for environmental gas monitoring, medical imaging, free-space optical communications and other applications. However, the quantum efficiency of mid-infrared LEDs is significantly lower than those operating in the visible or near infrared. To date, different LEDs based on InAsSb/InAs or InSb/AlInSb, quantum wells, and quantum cascade structures have been produced to increase internal efficiency. Resonant cavity designs and flip-chip geometry can be used to increase optical extraction. Meanwhile, quantum dot structures have shown promising results and room temperature electroluminescence from LEDs containing InSb quantum dots has been obtained.

    In this project, we aim to fabricate and characterize novel Mid-infrared LEDs based on 5-component digital alloy nanostructures grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE). The pentanary materials offer useful advantages to the device engineer because the presence of the fifth element in the alloy allows an additional degree of freedom for tailoring the performance of the device. For example, by fixing the band gap and the lattice constant, the alloy composition can be varied to independently adjust material properties, such as the refractive index or the spin-orbit split off band gap, for suppressing nonradiative Auger recombination and intervalence band absorption, which should ultimately improve device performance. Pentanary alloys can also be used with great effect as barriers and recently, strained type I quantum well LEDs and lasers containing pentanary AlInGaAsSb barriers have been demonstrated.

    Supervisor

    Professor A Krier

  • Photonics circuits for 2D materials

    The discovery of graphene led to an explosion of interest in two dimensional (2D) materials. In recent years many other atomically-thin materials have been isolated and studied, with a wide range of different properties. Direct-gap semiconductors could revolutionise the optoelectronics industry, reducing the size, weight and power requirements of conventional devices such as displays, emitters, modulators and detectors, and also opening a new field in which the quantum properties of light are harnessed.

    Atom-scale defects in 2D materials have been shown to efficiently emit quantum light, which is a sought-after resource for many applications in quantum information processing. Guiding the light emitted by these centres in useful directions, to make use of it, is an outstanding challenge that this project aims to address.

    Photonic circuits that are compatible with 2D materials will be designed, fabrication and tested in the state-of-the-art facilities housed in Lancaster’s Quantum Technology Centre. You will be taught how to create the required structures using nanofabrication tools in the cleanroom, and the quantum nature of the light emitted will be assessed using a quantum electro-optics laboratory housed in Isolab.

    Background reading:

    [1] "Quantum information to the home" I. Choi, R. Young et al. New Journal of Physics 13, 063039 (2011) – see also goo.gl/HT1Ci and goo.gl/bg1Cd

    [2] "Photonic crystals to enhance light extraction from 2D materials" Y. J. Noori et al. ACS Photonics 3, 2515 (2016)

    [3] QOpto.com

    [4] More about Isolab - https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/physics/isolab/

    Supervisor

    Professor R Young

  • Charge Transport in High-Mobility Graphene Heterostructures

    Supervisor

    Dr Leonid Ponomarenko

  • Quantum acoustics with surface acoustic waves

    Superconducting quantum circuits are commonly regarded as artificial atoms as they have discrete energy levels between which transitions are possible. High tunability of energy levels makes these structures promising for applications in quantum computing and quantum sensing. The large dipole moment of the artificial atoms makes it easy to couple them to electromagnetic modes of resonators in the microwave range. Currently, this coupling is widely used for interqubit interaction, lasing, etc.

    In this project, we propose to study quantum systems in which superconducting artificial atoms will be coupled to surface acoustic wave (SAW) resonators. This is a novel area of experimental condensed matter physics, where Lancaster University can play a significant role. The speed of the surface acoustic waves is five orders of magnitude smaller than the speed of light, thus the devices based on SAW can find application as a memory element in quantum computing. What is more interesting, we are going to realise the strong coupling regime in which artificial atoms will emit spontaneously into the SAW resonator, i.e., ``acoustic laser'', and also demonstrate the ground quantum-mechanical state of the macroscopic mechanical resonator.

    The student will learn the best from quantum physics, ultralow temperature cryogenics, microwave engineering and nanofabrication. This combination will provide the student with a set of highly desirable transferable skills.

    We are going to submit a grant application within the QuantERA call (the deadline is 18 February 2019). This project is a collaboration between Lancaster, Glasgow, CNR (Italy) and the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Science.

    You are expected to have a strong interest and preferably knowledge in some of the fields:

    • quantum physics, superconductivity and superfluidity, Josephson junction devices, Coulomb blockade, quantum optics and quantum information
    • low-noise measurements and microwave engineering
    • data acquisition using Python or MatLab
    • cryogenic techniques
    • nanofabrication

    Supervisor

    Yuri Pashkin

  • Quantum metrology with Coulomb blockade devices

    The unit of electric current, the ampere, one of the seven SI base units, has undergone a major revision recently. The previous definition, which was difficult to realise with high precision in practice, was replaced by a definition that is more intuitive and easier to implement. From May 2019, the ampere will be defined in terms of the fundamental constant, the elementary charge e, which was fixed for this purpose. This calls for the development of ultra-stable DC current sources based on the highly controlled transfer of individual electrons that can be prototypes of the future DC current standard.

    Coulomb blockade devices offer the possibility of controlling charge transport in electrical circuits at the level of elementary charge and have the potential to produce DC current with unprecedented accuracy. One of such promising devices is the so-called a SINIS single-electron transistor containing ultrasmall tunnel junctions made of superconductors and normal metals.

    In this project, you will design, fabricate and measure the SINIS single-electron transistor in order to understand and eliminate error events in electron tunnelling. The project will be conducted in collaboration with Aalto University and the National Physical Laboratory. The fabrication will take place in the cleanroom of the Lancaster Quantum Technology Centre. The fabricated devices will be characterised in a dilution refrigerator at millikelvin temperatures.

    You are expected to have a strong interest and preferably knowledge in some of the fields:

    • quantum physics, superconductivity and superfluidity, Josephson junction devices, Coulomb blockade, quantum optics and quantum information
    • low-noise measurements and microwave engineering
    • data acquisition using Python or MatLab
    • cryogenic techniques
    • nanofabrication

    Supervisor

    Yuri Pashkin

  • Ultralow temperatures in nanoelectronic devices

    The ability to cool materials to millikelvin temperatures has been the foundation of many breakthroughs in condensed matter physics and nanotechnology. At this frontier, quantum behaviour can be studied by making devices smaller and colder, increasing coherence across the system. The goal of this project is to apply a new technique – on-chip demagnetisation refrigeration – to reach temperatures below 1 millikelvin in nanoelectronic structures. This will open a new temperature range for nanoscale physics.

    As experiments are pushed into the sub-millikelvin regime, it becomes increasingly difficult to measure and define the temperature of a material or device. The thermal coupling between various sub-systems in can be extremely small; for example, the electrons in the metal wires contacting an on-chip structure can be at a different temperature to the electrons in the chip, the phonons in the chip, and the apparatus that you are using to cool it. This situation calls for a variety of thermometry techniques, each suited to measuring the temperature of a different physical system. The thermometers must also have extremely low heat dissipation and excellent isolation from the room temperature environment. This project will include the development of new and existing thermometry techniques that are suitable for sub-millikelvin temperatures.

    Devices will be produced in the Lancaster Quantum Technology Centre cleanroom, and by our collaborators. Experiments will be conducted using the cutting-edge facilities of the Ultralow Temperature Physics group at Lancaster.

    You are expected to have a strong interest and preferably knowledge in:

    • electrical measurements of nanoscale devices
    • cryogenic techniques
    • nanofabrication
    • data acquisition using Python or MatLab

    Supervisor

    Jonathan Prance

  • Hybrid graphene/superconductor sensors

    The most important component for building superconducting circuits is the Josephson junction. It has recently been found that graphene, encapsulated in boron nitride and placed between superconducting contacts, can form high-quality Josephson junctions. What is more, these junctions can be controlled using local voltages, which is not normally possible. So far, graphene junctions have been used to build simple superconducting devices (SQUIDs and qubits) but their full potential has not been explored. The aim of this project is to study new types of superconducting circuit that exploit the special properties of graphene junctions. As well as learning about the physics of the superconducting proximity effect in graphene, the circuits will be used to demonstrate applications of these junctions in ultra-sensitive amplification and sensing (principally magnetic field sensing).

    This project will make use of the recently completed IsoLab facility at Lancaster, which provides the “quiet” environment needed to study quantum devices and to assess their performance. IsoLab provides three highly-isolated laboratories for testing the electrical, mechanical and optical properties of materials and devices. One of the three laboratories is equipped with a dilution refrigerator capable of cooling samples below 10 milliKelvins. The refrigerator is housed in an electromagnetically shielded room and rests on a 50-tonne concrete block to provide vibration isolation. As well as studying new devices, this project will also include testing and development of the IsoLab environment.

    A student working on this project will learn how to design and fabricate nanoelectronic devices and study their electrical characteristics at low temperature. The student will benefit from an ongoing collaboration between Lancaster and the National Graphene Institute in Manchester to study graphene/superconductor hybrid devices.

    You are expected to have a strong interest and preferably knowledge in:

    • electrical measurements of nanoscale devices
    • cryogenic techniques
    • nanofabrication
    • data acquisition using Python or MatLab

    Supervisor

    Jonathan Prance

  • ‘Eye-safe’ VCSEL arrays for gesture recognition, 3D-imaging and LiDAR

    Vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) are very small (cheap) and efficient compound semiconductor laser diodes with established markets in optical datacoms and laser printing. In 2017 the launch of the iPhone X with its 3D sensing capabilities, based on 3 VCSEL dies, exploded the size of the VCSEL market to $330M, with predictions for a further 10-fold increase by 2023. So-called ‘eye-safe’ lasers that emit at >1400 nm are preferred for these applications, as the light is absorbed in the cornea, protecting the highly-sensitive retina. However, all production VCSELs, including those in smartphones, still lase at wavelengths <1000 nm. The aim of the project is to develop >1400 nm VCSELs and VCSEL arrays for consumer and LiDAR applications, based on our patented GaSb quantum ring technology. Strong interaction with industrial partners is expected.

    The PhD starting date is 1 October 2019.  Funding is for 4 years and is available to citizens of the UK and the European Union (subject to residency status)

    Supervisor

    Professor Manus Hayne

  • PhD position in Superconducting Quantum Devices

    Project Description

    Lancaster University is offering a PhD project to study superconducting quantum devices, with a focus on Josephson parametric amplifiers operating at millikelvin temperatures. The start date is 1 October 2019.

    Quantum technologies require the preparation, manipulation and readout of quantum states that are sensitive to noise and prone to decoherence. One of the most promising approaches is based on using superconducting circuits that benefit from extremely low dissipation and well-established fabrication process. The challenge in the field is handling quantum states with utmost care and amplifying extremely weak signals using advanced instrumentation. Recent developments depend on the availability of cryogenic amplifiers with sufficient gain and bandwidth, and with an added noise level that is only limited by intrinsic quantum fluctuations. Existing semiconductor and superconducting amplifiers all suffer from compromises in one or more of these critical specifications.

    The Josephson Travelling Wave Parametric Amplifier (JTWPA) (A.B. Zorin, Phys. Rev. Applied 6, 034006 (2016)) is predicted to outperform the existing versions of parametric amplifiers in gain, bandwidth and simplicity of construction. The JTWPA will be integrated with the single-Cooper-pair transistor to facilitate early uptake by the user community.

    The project will be undertaken in the Lancaster Quantum Technology Centre. The work is experimental and an essential part of the project will be device fabrication using state-of-the-art nanofabrication facilities available in the LQTC cleanroom. The student will gain experience of working in a cleanroom environment and acquire practical skills in electron-beam and photolithography, thin-film deposition and plasma processing. They will be assisted by the experienced dedicated cleanroom technicians and academic staff who have the expertise and hands-on experience in nanofabrication. Device characterisation will be performed in a cryogen-free dilution refrigerator equipped with microwave measurement lines and cold amplifiers.

    The Physics Department is a holder of Athena SWAN Silver award and JUNO Championship status and is strongly committed to fostering diversity within its community as a source of excellence, cultural enrichment, and social strength. We welcome those who would contribute to the further diversification of our department.

    Supervisor

    Professor Yuri Pashkin

    Please contact Prof Yuri Pashkin (y.pashkin@lancaster.ac.uk  for any additional enquiries.)

    Funding Notes

    Funding for these projects is available to citizens of the European Union including the UK. Applications from non-EU citizens will be considered, provided the applicant has access to an alternative source of funding.

  • Developing broadly tunable mid-infrared VCSEL for interferometry aiming to gas analysing

    Supervisor

    Dr Quian Zhuang

    Description

    This project aims to develop broadly tunable mid-infrared VCSEL devices and explore its use for interferometry. This will be achieved through the use of semiconductor type II cascade structures with an external cavity, to provide VCSEL with tenability of ~ 1 um. Precise tuning of the emitting wavelength of VCSEL pairs through self-heating phenomena will be explored to investigate the use in interferometry.

    The project will be closely incorporated with MIRICO, a company dedicated in gas analysing based on laser interference induced by phase shift. The success of the project will provide a completely new technology for gas analysing, which can provide significantly improved accuracy, response time and compactness, with massively reduced cost. MIRICO will provide in-kind input, e.g. investigate the interferometry features from VCSEL pairs that commercially in the market and assess Lancaster VCSELs and their interferometry, and offer secondment opportunities for the student to develop and use their optical bench setup to assess Lancaster VCSEL. The student will be trained for the use of companies’ facilities and will be supervised by senior engineers from the company; the student will also learn about the management approaches of the companies, in particular with MIRICO which is experienced in managing EU and Innovate UK research projects. The student should also develop the skills in lecturing – he/she will be the key contact to present the research outcomes to the companies and to intake the feedback from companies to achieve the next milestone.

    In addition, there will be a good chance formulating a joint research proposal including Physics, LEC and MIRICO for a bid to the forthcoming UKRI research program aiming to tackle climate change and driving clean growth (focused on the theme of Clean Air). The PhD candidate will be in a consortium including physicists, environmental scientists and instrumental engineers if the bid is successful.

  • Nanoscale Physics of Cryobiology

    Temperature is a fundamentally important thermodynamic parameter. For life, the temperature range is markedly restricted by phase transitions in biomolecules, biomolecular assemblies and physiological environment limitations. Expanding these boundaries, an ability to reversibly freeze physiological processes making life dormant and to revive at will would be invaluable.

    This PhD project that is a collaboration between Lancaster Physics and Biology and Life Sciences will identify, quantify and manage nanoscale, the physical and biological impact of cryo-induced changes. It will use the effects of low temperatures on life as a versatile biocompatible physical interrogation revealing novel principles of function of biological objects from molecular assemblies through to tissues.

    You will study the nanoscale structure of systems quenched at variable stages of the cryo-process will be investigated via scanning probe nano-tomography, providing 3D nano-maps of key physicochemical properties – mechanical (affecting crystallisation), thermal (governing ice-nucleation), dielectric (water content) and spectrochemical (biomolecular nano-identification), developing a fundamental knowledge of low temperature influence on biosystems across diverse length scales.

    Supervisor

    Prof Oleg Kolosov

  • Novel Scanning Probe Microscopy for 3D Exploration of Physics of Nanodevices

    Majority of nanoscale materials and devices involve layered and patterned structures such as nanowires or nanopillars with dimensions ranging from ~ 10 nm to um. The properties, morphology and quality of multiple buried layers and interfaces are crucial for the development of novel devices, improving device performance and optimization of production processes. Unfortunately, the key active layers case hidden 10s to 1000s nm deep under the device's surface.

    The PhD project will make a step-change offering a new widely applicable concept for fast and efficient 3D characterisation of nanomaterials and devices. This approach, pioneered at Lancaster in Kolosov’s group uses Ar ion beam targeted at the edge of the sample to create a perfectly flat oblique flat section with near-atomic flatness across all layers of interest. These are studied by the material sensitive scanning probe microscopy (SPM), revealing 3D morphology, composition, strain and crystalline quality via local physical properties –mechanical and piezoelectric moduli, nanoscale heat conductance, work function and electrical conductivity. This capability not existing before the Lancaster developments have huge potential in revolutionizing how we can explore and develop new nanoscale devices from microelectronics and lasers to biosensors.

    Supervisor

    Prof Oleg Kolosov

    Industrial collaborators

    Bruker LTD, LMA Ltd.

  • Novel Thermoelectric and Heat-Transport Phenomena in 2D Materials

    Whereas graphene unique electron mobility and current densities - have been thoroughly investigated, its thermal properties, equally exceptional, are comparatively unexplored. In the thermal world, graphene is the highest thermal conductivity material, whereas another two-dimensional material (2DM), WSe2, possess the lowest cross-plane thermal conductance. This project combines efforts of two leading groups in 2DM's, for theoretical description in 2DM’s and advanced scanning probe microscopy (SPM) nano thermal characterisation of 2DM's to exploit these record-breaking thermal and electrical properties of 2DMs, where current and heat flows are confined into <100nm geometrical structures. Some recent preliminary studies at Lancaster of thermoelectric (TE) properties of graphene nanoconstrictions strongly suggest that the geometric dimensions of current and heat bearing pathways in the 2DMs lead to novel TE phenomena. The pioneering paper published by Prof. Kolosov’s group in Nano Letters in 2018 had about 1,500 in just two months since its publication.

    The project will target synthesis of 2DMs, manufacture nanostructures of individual 2DMs, heterostructures and their heterojunctions, measuring and mapping local nanoscale electronic transport in 2DMs nanoconstrictions and heterostructures from low to high current densities, using both lithography-defined electrodes Kelvin Probe/potential microscopy, scanning gate microscopy, local anodic oxidation. Exploration and analysis of the heat transport in 2DMs based nanostructures, its anisotropy, the layer number dependence, and the interaction with the substrate including encapsulation.

    The project will explore the newly discovered paradigm of thermoelectricity to create a new platform for energy generation and heat management via nanoscale devices. The project is a follow-up of the large scale EU project QUANTIHEAT that finished at the end of 2017. For the materials and applications, we have the strong support of our key industrial collaborator on this project – Thales (France) who is extremely interested both in the portable thermoelectricity in their devices, as well as in thermal interface materials that can dissipate heat on RF and optoelectronics, preferably as flexible devices. For the characterisation side, Bruker has a major vested interest in the scientific instrumentation to explore nanoscale thermal and thermoelectric phenomena, acquiring in 2018 Anasys Instruments, a leading thermal probe microscopy company (where Prof. Kolosov was a scientific advisor since 2006).

    Supervisors

    Prof Oleg Kolosov

    Dr Edward McCann

  • Environmentally Friendly Windows - Making Infrared to Warm and Cool the Houses

    The project aims to address the complex and currently rapidly worsening global problem of comfortable yet energy efficient urban housing aggravated by the unprecedented growth of population density in metropolitan areas, with this project targeting both improving cities sustainability and reducing air pollution in the metropolitan areas. Residential and commercial structures consume up to 40% of electricity across the globe, with a significant fraction devoted to the heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC). With windows (fenestration) estimated to provide around 60% heat entry (or loss), the material science aspect of this project targets novel concept of energy efficient coatings (including external and internal coatings along with the fenestration).

    The project employs an innovative strategy of tackling “invisible” but very active parts of the light spectrum. This is achieved by novel coatings with spectrally selective transmission, reflection and emissivity in visible (VIS) solar light, near-IR (NIR) parts of solar spectrum (carrying about 50% of solar heat energy) and at mid-infrared radiation (MIR) wavelengths (Fig.1), reducing heat inflow into internal areas, while preserving useful visible light helping to reduce internal illumination cost. Applied to windows and the wall coatings/paint, these will modulate the thermal heat outflow (for external surfaces) and reduce thermal heat inflow (for internal surfaces).

    You will use the high-throughput materials discovery approaches to experimentally and theoretically screen the widest range of potential materials candidates - inorganic solid-state materials, the two-dimensional materials and organic additives, exploiting optical and plasmonic nature of thin layers and their internal nanostructure. Besides the films’ quality and devices’ performance, the fabrication method will constitute another crucial consideration, as manufacturing costs is an equally important parameter in a number of emerging technologies. To this end, the development of alternative deposition methods based on solution processing paradigms could provide a breakthrough in both cost and performance by marrying fabrication simplicity with high-throughput manufacturing, addressing the very large area deposition needs at industrial scale. A remarkable aspect of this approach is the accurate control over the electronic properties of solution-processed films through the simple physical blending of precursor solutions and soluble dopant molecules with successful coating prototypes engineered jointly with project industrial collaborators.

    Supervisor

    Prof Oleg Kolosov

  • Single molecule thermoselectrics

    The demand for new thermoelectric materials – those that generate electricity from waste heat – are vital to realising continued advances in information technologies, the built environment, aerospace and automotive industries. The aim of this project is to develop a new family of materials, which exploit room temperature quantum interference effects, to maximise this potential and help fight climate change.

    Small organic molecules (~3nm in length) have been shown to be ideal candidates for thermoelectricity generation they are scalable, stable, and can be tuned to exhibit a high Seebeck coefficient. In this project, you will use Lancaster’s molecular thin film fabrication capabilities and a suite of state-of-the-art scanning probe microscopes to explore the physical processes of thermal and electrical transport in single-molecule junctions and ultra-thin organic films.

    You will work closely with colleagues in Lancaster’s Quantum Technology Centre and theory division to design, fabricate and characterise efficient thermoelectric devices using direct chemical synthesis and also layer by layer assembly. The successful applicant will, amongst others, acquire skills in graphene and other 2D material fabrication and transfer, chemical self-assembly and scanning probe microscopy for nano-mechanical, -thermal and –electrical characterisation.

    Supervisor

    Dr Benjamin Robinson