Metal oxide thin films like ZnO, Al2O3 and TiO2 are widely used in industry in microelectronics, catalysts and display devices. Conventional techniques for the production of these films, such as pulsed laser deposition (PLD), chemical vapour deposition and physical vapour deposition, all suffer from a lack of fundamental understanding of the underlying physical processes and detailed control of the deposited film properties. The goal of this research is to overcome these limitations by introducing a new deposition technique that uniquely combines laser and electrically produced plasmas: Plasma-Enhanced Pulsed Laser Deposition (PE-PLD).
The PE-PLD process can be described as 3 phases with distinctly different physics involved: laser ablation, plume dynamics and interactions, and thin-film formation. These individual processes have been studied in isolation in some detail, but the multi-scale and multi-physics nature of the PE-PLD process means that linking these studies is challenging, limiting what can be learned practically about how to better control thin film production.
This project will focus on enhancing the understanding of the underpinning plasma physics and chemistry of PE-PLD. You will combine state-of-the-art multiscale numerical modelling with direct measurements of plasma properties performed in the YPI Laboratories. The overall aim of the research is to provide predictive knowledge of high-quality thin film production, superior to current empirical methods.