EPI2SEM: EPItaxial growth and in-situ analysis of 2-dimensional SEMiconductors

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Physics & Astronomy

Abstract

The progressive miniaturization of materials and devices in the 21st century has enabled important discoveries and access to a wide range of phenomena of fundamental and applied interest. But future progress and innovative solutions to global challenges require a shift towards transformative material systems and integration technologies. Here we propose to establish at the University of Nottingham a facility (EPI2SEM) for the EPItaxial growth and in-situ analysis of a new generation of 2-dimensional SEMiconductors based on metal chalcogenides. Their unique electronic properties (tuneable band structure, IR-VIS-UV broad optical absorption, electron correlations, high electron mobility, etc.) and versatility for a wide range of applications (digital flexible electronics, optoelectronics, quantum technologies, energy, etc.) have attracted a surge of interest worldwide. However, for these new materials to meet academia and industry needs, several challenges must be addressed, including their controlled scalable growth, investigation by advanced techniques, and integration in complex device architectures.

EPI2SEM will provide the UK community with a unique capability for the development of semiconductors grown with atomic layer precision in a clean ultra high vacuum system with fully-characterised electronic, chemical and morphological properties for advances across several research disciplines. EPI2SEM will enable the transformative miniaturization and functionalization of semiconductors for advances in condensed matter (quantum materials), manufacturing (new processes and designs), quantum technologies (security, sensing, communication), nanotechnologies (low-energy consumption, diversification, integration), surface physics (sensing, catalysis, energy conversion). Progress in these areas is key to the health of several research disciplines (engineering, medicine, chemistry, biology, etc.) contributing towards prosperity outcomes.

The future competitiveness of the UK economy relies on innovation in science; ability to respond timely to global changes/challenges through innovation in infrastructure; the availability of highly-skilled and trained scientists and technologists; and flexibility to exploit novel technologies and materials to deliver better quality of life. This proposal has the potential to deliver innovation across these areas, addressing several challenges facing society. In particular, EPI2SEM will contribute to address the EPSRC priority of "21st Century Materials". In 2013, David Willetts announced the Eight Great Technologies that will propel the UK to future growth. This includes "Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology" that led to the establishment of the Henry Royce Institute (NGI) and the National Graphene Institute (NGI). One of the research pillars of the HRI/NGI is "2D Materials", but methods for their manufacturing need to be developed. The new equipment will set out the key steps needed to reach a long-term vision and benefit strategically important research areas, as set out in the 2018 government industrial strategy White paper.

Planned Impact

EPI2SEM will enable the transformative miniaturization and functionalization of semiconductors for advances in condensed matter (quantum materials), manufacturing (new processes and designs), quantum technologies (security, sensing, communication), nanotechnologies (low-energy consumption, diversification, integration), surface physics (sensing, catalysis, energy conversion). Progress in these areas is key to the health of several research disciplines (engineering, medicine, chemistry, biology, etc.) contributing towards prosperity outcomes.
The future competitiveness of the UK economy relies on innovation in science; ability to respond timely to global changes/challenges through innovation in infrastructure; the availability of highly-skilled and trained scientists and technologists; and flexibility to exploit novel technologies and materials to deliver better quality of life. This proposal has the potential to deliver innovation across these areas, addressing several challenges facing society.

Our strategy is a sustainable research infrastructure that will help the UK to respond to challenges in science, industry and society.
We will actively pursue pathways to impact of the equipment by:
- Maximizing its usage to support new science and kick-start innovative research projects
Although EPI2SEM will be used mainly by condensed-matter scientists, an increasing use can also be expected by researchers in other disciplines, such as chemistry and engineering. This potential will be further developed through an active and targeted dissemination strategy towards new communities, supported by preferential access for 'first-time users', pump priming projects, and the adaptation of instrumentation to specific needs.

- Bridging the gap with industry to strengthen the socio-economic impact
The proposed facility will push the frontiers of modern technologies by stimulating innovation across different sectors. To realize this potential we will actively attracting industrial users by offering novel, optimized services, targeted outreach activities and a dedicated industrial access procedure through a dedicated industrial liaisons officer. The University of Nottingham is committed to supporting the long-term industrial and economic impact of EPI2SEM through the Technology Transfer and IP Commercialisation team, which will facilitate the translation and commercial exploitation of scientific discoveries emerging from the research enabled by EPI2SEM.

- Strengthening the role of the facility worldwide
As the cost and complexity of facilities continues to increase, there is a growing awareness that collaboration is essential to remain competitive on a global scale. We will promote network activities on the development and production of materials and devices. We will define and defend a global position on the future of condensed matter research towards national and international policy makers and funding agencies through a pro-active targeted outreach strategy. We have established partnerships with several world-leading groups and provided materials for research on 2D semiconductors to over 30 groups, including 7 UK institutions.


The Operation and Steering Groups of EPI2SEM will ensure the delivery of these three main targets through measures to capture impact by key performance indicators (KPIs), i.e. by monitoring research outputs, number of users, patents, research contracts, etc. In particular, effective dissemination (e.g. by press releases, flyers, brochures, web-site, publication, exhibitions) is pivotal to success and long-term sustainability. Thus the impact of all communication activities will be monitored and adjustments made to increase impact whenever they are deemed to be insufficient.

Publications

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