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Atomically engineered heterostructures for quantum IDs

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding
    Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The incredible properties of 2D materials and vdW heterostructures provide a rich playground of exploration owing to their elegant quantum mechanical nature. We have recently shown that one class of 2D materials, TMDs (e.g. MoS2 and WS2), exhibit complex and identifiable variation in their optical emission which can be exploited as physically unclonable functions for unbreakable quantum IDs. vdW heterostructures further increase this potential, where interlayer interactions are important in defining their physical properties locally. To gain a detailed understanding of this we need to glean information about the atomic uniqueness of the 2D material’s structure, both in single and multi-layers, and the defects which determine variations in physical properties. Our group has helped pioneer one of the few methods capable of imaging single atoms and chemical bonds via advanced scanning probe microscopy (SPM) as shown in Fig. 1. SPM has the unique capability that it can simultaneously measure electronic and chemical properties, which promises a detailed understanding of 2D material structures.

This project will explore inter-layer interactions between vdW heterostructures of 2D materials and their use as atomically unique security devices. We will study how bilayer contact points in WS2 and MoS2 heterostructures, trapped material, and incorporation of graphene, boron nitride or organic layers affect their physical properties locally. The resulting hybrid structures will provide an exciting playground to develop a fundamental understanding of 2D material defects and inter-layer interactions. 2D material and vdW heterostructure properties will be studied and correlated with images of their detailed atomic and electronic structure (with resolution better than 0.1nm), using methods capable of imaging a single atom. Using these methods we will identify atomic scale defects and contact points in heterostructure materials that can be tuned to improve device performance and ultimately pioneer a new area of quantum security and technology.

The selected student will have the opportunity to become trained in a broad range of techniques to study a variety of 2D materials. This will involve advanced scanning probe microscopy methods capable of imaging single atoms and characterising nanoscale electronic and chemical properties, then correlating these with measured optical behaviour. This work will take place in world-leading facilities including Lancaster’s Quantum Technology Centre and the award winning IsoLab, providing some of the most advanced environments for characterisation in the world. You will work in a vibrant research group, whose research has been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education award for ‘STEM project of the year’ in 2019. You will also become highly trained in 2D material fabrication, Raman spectroscopy, photoluminescence, X-ray spectroscopy, clean room usage, device testing and use nano-fabrication tools to prepare devices for integration with embedded systems. Students are also expected to publish high impact journal publications, and present their work at international meetings and conferences, and will have the opportunity to work closely with our spin-out company, Quantum Base Ltd, around product development, providing excellent experience and prospects for future development and opportunities.
The Physics Department is 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.

Please contact Dr Samuel Jarvis () for any additional enquiries. You can also apply directly at stating the title of the project and the name of the supervisor.
Closing Date
Applications will be accepted until the post is filled


T. McGrath et al., Appl. Phys. Rev. 6, 011303 (2019), Y. Cao et al., 2D Mater. 4, 045021 (2017)
S. P. Jarvis et al., Nature Commun. 6, 8338 (2015), A. M. Sweetman et al., Nature Commun. 5, 3931 (2014)

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