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Microfabrication on curved surfaces via multi-axis spin-coating


   Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

  Assoc Prof Volker Nock, Assoc Prof Mathieu Sellier  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

What do smartphone displays, solar cells, electronic circuit boards, and CDs have in common? They all tend to be flat, rigid structures. The reason for this feature relates to the fact that most of the manufacturing processes involved in the production of these objects have been optimized for flat, rigid substrates. The corner stone of these processes involves coating the substrate with a thin coating layer and a common technique, known for its effectiveness and low-cost, is spin-coating. In the process of spin-coating, the liquid is first deposited on the surface and then spun off it to leave a thin film which eventually solidifies, producing a solid coating layer. To this day, spin-coating is only effective for flat substrates because it leads to non-uniformities on curved ones.

Funded by a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment research grant, we have recently extend the applicability of spin-coating to curved substrates. The complex motion required for this is achieved by rotating the substrate around multiple axis, as opposed to rotation around a single axis as is normally done. For this we have designed and built a multi-axis spin-coating system able to encode the required optimal motion, a first of its kind. Efforts are currently underway to develop a comprehensive fluid mechanics model coupling the liquid film dynamics with the complex substrate motion, and thus to further optimize system operation. Given that initial coating experiments with the system have yielded good coating coverage on complex shapes, we are now ready to use it for a range of microfabrication applications.

As such, we are looking for a doctoral student to join us who will explore the use of our unique multi-axis spin-coating system for microfabrication and advanced applications in electronics and optics.

For this you will be working closely with the team developing the system and collaborators wanting to use it. The research will utilise the University of Canterbury’s strong capabilities in micro- and nanofabrication and materials characterization. It will deal with challenges such as performing structural measurements on non-planar surfaces and adopting traditional fabrication methods from microelectronics to curved substrates.

You will use spin-coating, non-planar photolithography, etching and deposition methods, optical characterization (e.g., light microscopy, electron microscopy) and surface mount techniques to carry out experiments to investigate applications of multi-axis spin-coating. For the latter, you will get the opportunity to explore a range of possible application options. During your research period you will need to design and complete a PhD plan, carry out successful experiments, generate, analyse and interpret data, publish scientific findings and write and submit a thesis.

If English is not your first language, you must have passed English exams with scores that meet the requirements for postgraduate study in New Zealand, for example, an IELTS score of at least 6.0 overall.

The scholarship includes an annual tax-free stipend of NZ$28,000 p.a. (paid in monthly installments) plus tuition fees, for three years and travel to present at a conference. The research will mainly be conducted at the University of Canterbury, but may also include work in collaborator labs around New Zealand.

 Your ideal background

  • Relevant MSc or BSc Hons qualification - e.g., in MEMS, Nanotechnology, Mechatronics or Electrical/Mechanical Engineering.
  • Experience in one or more technical areas of micro- and nanofabrication.
  • Knowledge of material characterization methods and micro-optics/electronics
  • Meticulous record keeping skills
  • A strong academic record
  • Willingness to learn and up-skill
  • Good communication and networking ability, and willingness to travel

How to apply

If this sounds like you, email a covering letter detailing why you feel you would be suitable for this scholarship, your CV and official transcript to Volker Nock.


Funding Notes

The scholarship includes an annual tax-free stipend of NZ$28,000 p.a. (paid in monthly installments) plus tuition fees, for three years and travel to present at a conference.
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