This post-doctoral research position at University College Dublin, Ireland supports a collaborative project with two US-based institutions and Queen’s University Belfast aimed at undertaking research to develop new knowledge related to the manufacturing of functional electronic materials. The material of study in this effort is hafnium oxide with a specific arrangement of atoms that results in a spontaneous electric charge separation that can be changed with application of a sufficient voltage. This functionality is useful for future generations of low power computing and computer memory. This particular hafnium oxide structure is challenging to prepare and often contains regions with other atomic arrangements that do not exhibit the useful spontaneous charge separation property.

This project will aim to undertake fundamental research to provide the knowledge needed to directly and completely form the hafnium oxide structure of interest. This new process will overcome the challenges of structural purity that have hindered mass production of hafnium oxide-based computer memory devices and enable development of new computing elements that consume less power. Such low power devices are needed to reduce the overall energy consumption related to computing. This, in turn, will enable the development and manufacturing of new microelectronic technologies that could lead to new functionality and less energy consumption.

As part of this project, a post-doctoral researcher at UCD will perform scanning probe microscopies to elucidate the nanoscale electromechanical performance of single- and multi-phase films to determine the impact of phase purity on device performance and the mechanisms by which phase impurities lead to wake-up and fatigue behaviour. The local ferroelectric switching performance will be studied in films that are mixed phase and phase-pure to develop new fundamental knowledge of switching barriers. Further, the scanning probe electromechanical performance will help refine the processing methods to achieve phase purity.

The project is funded by National Science Foundation (USA), Science Foundation Ireland (Republic of Ireland) and Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland) and comprises teams from University of Virginia (USA) led by Prof. Jon Ihlefeld, James Madison University (USA) led by Prof. Christina Rost, Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland) led by Dr. Amit Kumar, and UCD led by Prof. Brian Rodriguez.

The ideal applicant will have prior experience using advanced atomic force microscopy techniques to study piezoelectric and ferroelectric properties of ferroelectric materials and will be responsible for the development and implementation of tools to understand the electromechanical and ferroelectric performance of hafnia films. This project brings together researchers from several disciplines, including materials science, electron and scanning probe microscopies, and physics. As part of the project, the team will also develop educational outreach materials for school students to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to show how science and engineering are global endeavours.

This is a highly collaborative project and there is funding from SFI to cover research visits, training courses and conference attendance. The successful applicant will be part of the UCD School of Physics and based in the laboratory of Prof. Rodriguez in the Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research.

This is a research focused role, where you will conduct a specified programme of research supported by research training and development under the supervision and direction of a Principal Investigator. The primary purpose of the role is to further develop your research skills and competences, including the processes of publication in peer-reviewed academic publications, the development of funding proposals, the mentorship of graduate students along with the opportunity to develop your skills in research led teaching.

Applications are encouraged from individuals who may not meet all requirements, but who have an interest in developing and implementing scanning probe microscopy tools to understand functional properties of electronic materials. Informal inquiries are welcome particularly as it relates to fellowship opportunities.

PD1 Salary range: 41,209 – 47,477 per annum

Appointment on the above salary will be dependent upon qualifications and experience.

PD2 Fixed Salary: 48,813 per annum

Closing date: 17:00hrs (local Irish time) on 2nd of March 2023.

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