Solid-State Diamond Electron Devices

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


2018-19: MSc Diamond Science & Technology includes the following modules:
CH976 Novel and Efficient Methods of Material Synthesis
PX904 Properties and Characterization of Materials
PX905 Defects and Dopants
CH977 Theory and Modelling of Materials
PX906 Manufacturing the Future: Industrial Diamond
CH978 Surfaces, Interfaces and Coatings
CH979 Devices and Fabrication
PX907 Diamond Photonics and Quantum Devices
CH980 Applications of High Performance Materials
CH981 Mini Research Project 1 and 2
And either CH914 or PX908:
CH914 Electrochemistry and Sensors
PX908 Biomedical Optics and Applications

The electronics industry is dominated by the silicon-based devices, with compound materials favoured for optoelectronics such as light-emitting diodes and lasers. However, the advantages of these materials evaporate when one seeks to establish electron-devices with high electric fields and high current densities, and one needs to find viable alternatives.
Diamond's intrinsic properties are immediately striking, with an ability to not only provide a highly desirable basis for the movement of electrons (pseudo vacuum-like charge transport), but also to deal with the potentially formidable thermal challenges due to its very high thermal conductivity. Diamond is, however, not without challenges in terms of the realisation of electron devices.
The well-known hardness of the material correlates with the underlying chemical inertness of carbon in this form, which makes the standard semiconductor processing steps either inefficient or completely invalid. Research and development for exploitation of diamond in technology therefore involves technical challenges and opportunities at a number of levels, including the material at a very fundamental level, its subsequent modification (such as forming electrical contacts and chemical modification to change the electrical conductivity), the design and building of prototype devices, and the underpinning physics theory and modelling required to optimise and understand the operation of diamond-based electron devices.
This PhD project is jointly run by the School of Engineering in Newcastle University and eVInce Technology Ltd. The problem addresses a common problem for all wide-bandgap devices, but one that is acutely so for diamond, which is the creation of accurate device models that mirror actual measured performance. The PhD will involve a balance of development of advanced physical device models using the COMSOL software pack (in conjunction with other research based software packages), exploration of the underpinning theory coupled with development of practical laboratory skills for characterisation of materials, fabrication of the devices and their subsequent evaluation and validation against models.
Within Newcastle, the project will be jointly supervised by Prof Nick Wright for the laboratory aspects of the project and Dr Jon Goss for the modelling and theory, and co-ordinated with supervisory support, practical on-site device and/or test piece fabrication and characterisation with eVInce Technology at their facilities in Sedgefield.

Planned Impact

Students: A CDT is first and foremost a training activity. The students will benefit from an interdisciplinary programme taught by leaders in their respective fields from our eight partner universities and industrial collaborators, focusing on the fundamentals of material science, from the classical to the quantum, but with an emphasis on diamond and related materials and application driven themes. Students will be recruited from a wide range of disciplines, maximising both quality and diversity to provide a richer experience. Our structure ensures that our students will experience at least three different research environments during their studentship; the PhD home university and two different partner institutes (of which one can be industry or that of our international academic partners). This greatly enhances the student experience, promotes mobility and encourages research across disciplines. When they graduate Diamond Science and Technology (DST) students, with a breadth of training no one institution could deliver alone will be ideally placed for employment in academia and industry. Our students will also be able to communicate across disciplines and make the required DST transformative breakthroughs in a wide range of societally important areas, e.g. electronics, optics, quantum computing, photonics, composite materials, energy efficiency and sensing.

Industry and Economy: Our industrial partners are focused on products, jobs and wealth creation. To achieve this they need appropriately skilled people and university R&D to sustain and grow their business in a world where competition is intense. The training programme has been devised to produce graduates who understand the interdisciplinary challenges faced and can communicate across fields, for employment in industries innovating in DST or other high performance material enabled products, businesses that exploit these materials or new businesses created. The industrial letters of support clearly demonstrate the demand for our students and the enthusiasm for the research. Market sectors such as electronics, photonics, sensors, defence and security, materials, abrasives, communications and healthcare will benefit. Through collaboration, industry will gain access to world-class academics and facilities. The training programme is also accessible to industrialists who will profit from accessing MSc modules. With the knowledge gained, companies will be able rapidly exploit DST technologies to position themselves at the cutting-edge. This CDT CDT will enable joined-up and efficient collaboration between universities, companies and users, greatly strengthening impact.

Society: Diamond is so much more than a gemstone. This CDT will actively drive DST in areas of huge societal impact such as, energy (e.g. efficient power devices, nuclear safety), the environment (e.g. decontamination, water quality monitoring), food safety (e.g. sensing contaminants) and health (e.g. ultra-high resolution functional imaging). Inside Science (11/7/13; very recently reported on the growing importance of DST to many aspects of modern society and highlighted the £20M Element Six Ltd investment in a new diamond research centre in the UK. We will ensure that DST is used to motivate school children via innovative approaches such as "How to grow a diamond" BBC Bang Goes the Theory, 2011, (>81,000 hits on To bring diamond to the forefront of public attention we will showcase the work through exhibitions using thought provoking and fun demonstrations, host public understanding lectures, produce podcasts/videos about our work, and host an interactive web-based forum where people have an opportunity to contact "the scientist" in order to ask questions about DST. This is in addition to publishing the results of our research in leading scientific journals, at international conferences and through the DST CDT website.


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