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Durham University

Department of Engineering

Advanced Materials, Electronics & Communications

In this challenge, we rely on the use of micro- and nanoscale engineering to develop materials and microsystems devices with novel functionality.

The aim of our research is to understand and exploit the electronic, physical, chemical and biological properties at the small scale. This enables technologies to control, harvest and generate electromagnetic radiation; to sense and shape the physical environment; to develop alternative computational paradigms; and for biomanipulation and tissue engineering. Our high impact work is supported by extensive cleanroom and other laboratory facilities within the department.

Research Challenge Director: Prof. Dagou Zeze
Deputy Research Challenge Director: Dr Andrew Gallant


Seminars- Epiphany Term 2020

Speaker

Affiliation

Title of Seminar

Date and Place

Dr Richard Beblo

Air Force Research Lab in Dayton

Multidisciplinary Design and Optimization at the United States Air Force Research Laboratory

17/01/2020- 11:00 in E240

Dr Morteza Amjadi

Heriot-Watt University

Functional Nanomaterial Composites for Soft Sensing and Actuation

24/01/2020- 11:00 in E360

Dr Shahin Homaeigohar

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Amphiphilic Carbon Nanofilaments for Biomedicine and Environmental Remediation

07/02/2020- 11:00 in E360

Dr Aidan Hindmarch

Durham University

Spintronics: Understanding How Pure Spin Currents Cross Interfaces

14/02/2020- 11:00 in E360

Dr Naeem Adibi

University of Lille1/ WeLoop

Life Cycle Assesment of electric and electronic equipment: focus on data centre from CEDaCI project

21/02/2020- 11:00 in E360

Dr Saeed Tamimi

University of Strathclyde

TBC

06/03/2020- 11:00 in E360

Dr Hamed Farokhi

Northumbria University

Vibration energy harvesting for powering IoTs

13/03/2020- 11:00 in E360

Dr Ana Neves

University of Exeter

TBC

16/03/2020- 13:00 in E360

Seminars- Michaelmas Term 2019

Speaker

Affiliation

Title of Seminar

Date and Place

Dr Ruchi Gupta

University of Birmingham

Optical Biosensors

03/10/2019- 13:00 in E101

Alejandro G. Gonzalez

Durham University (Engineering)

Integration of MOFs and ZnO nanowires

11/10/2019- 11:00 in E360

Dr P. Karagiannidis

University of Sunderland

Development of graphene-based materials from printing inks and coatings to structural composites

18/10/2019- 11:00 in E360

Dr Michael Berthaume

London South Bank University

Unravelling primate masticatory biomechanics with material science: an Anthroengineering perspective

25/10/2019- 11:00 in E240

Dr Hamdi Torun

Northumbria University

Microsystems for Future Challenges

01/11/2019- 11:00 in E360

Dongseok Song

Durham University (Engineering)

Advanced semiconductor multifunction devices

08/11/2019- 11:00 in E360

Dr Douglas Halliday

Durham University (Physics)

Solar Cells: A short history and future directions

22/11/2019- 11:00 in E360

Iman Frozanpoor

Durham University (Engineering)

Programmable Droplet Actuating Platform Using Liquid-Dielectrophoresis.

13/12/2019- 11:00 in E360


Current Projects:


THz rectennas for energy harvesting and imaging

It is well known that every hot object radiates a great deal of energy in the form of far- and mid-infrared radiation. Battery chargers, heat from industrial machinery, domestic appliances and even the human body, all generate a large amount of this “low grade” –or wasted– energy, even a considerable part of the solar spectrum lies within this frequency region.

New devices based on the nano-rectenna paradigm are quickly gaining acceptance as viable solutions for scavenging electromagnetic radiation. They rely on the availability of low-cost rectifiers, namely diodes, which can operate at very-high speed with a very-low threshold voltage.

We recently demonstrated a working prototype based on novel ultrafast nanodiodes coupled to infrared micro antennas, which we fabricate in the electronics group cleanroom. Apart from being the first group to clearly demonstrate the conversion of radiant energy to dc power, we also proposed a model based on Brownian ratchets, which correctly accounts for the incoherent nature of thermal radiation.

Staff: Claudio Balocco

Paper Electronics

Using paper as a substrate for electronics offers several advantages over traditional substrates like silicon. Paper is ubiquitous in everyday life; it is one of the largest surfaces ever produced by mankind and has become one of our most common materials since its invention over 2000 years ago.

It is also inexpensive, lightweight, mechanically flexible and easily recyclable. Paper is not a competitor substrate to silicon for high-performance electronics as it cannot rival the extremely low surface roughness or easily sustain nanometer-scale features. However, it can be considered alongside silicon and other substrates for applications where cost and ease of fabrication are more important than performance.

Staff: Michael Cooke

Nanotube thermal probe

This project addresses the possibility of creating a new advanced materials/device characterisation platform based on a non-destructive, carbon nanotube probe capable of recording simultaneously electrical, thermal and other transport properties and spectroscopic information at 2-20 nm.

Staff: Dagou Zeze

Electrochemical Probe Etching

A problem throughout many micro and nano applications is finding a consistent and reliable tool to interact, manipulate and measure samples directly. To solve this, a method is being developed to electrochemically etch probes down to, and beneath 20 nm sharpness over a wide range of lengths from 0.5 - 4.5 mm.

The process is being automated to allow consistent control over the probes produced such that it can be adapted for a wider range of applications such as scanning probe microscopy, dielectrophoretic manipulation and cellular studies.

Staff: Dagou Zeze

Kinetic Monte Carlo modelling of charge transport and Organic Photovoltaics

We develop and use Monte Carlo models to investigate the relationship between the energetic and morphological structure of a device and the performance of devices, and photovoltaics in particular. In particular this allows us to make links between properties of organic materials on the nano-scale to bulk, measureable properties.

Staff: Chris Groves

Noise Spectroscopy

Measuring the fluctuation of electrical current can provide detailed information about the energetic and morphological structure of organic materials.

Staff: Chris Groves

Course-grained Morphology modelling

We use course-grained models to simulate how conjugated polymers arrange themselves in thin films. This allows us to examine the links between molecular arrangement and charge transport as a function of regio-regularity, molecular weight and poly-dispersity.

Staff: Chris Groves

For other projects please see the Centre for Molecular and Nanoscale Electronics webpages.

THz rectennas for energy harvesting and imaging

It is well known that every hot object radiates a great deal of energy in the form of far- and mid-infrared radiation. Battery chargers, heat from industrial machinery, domestic appliances and even the human body, all generate a large amount of this “low grade” –or wasted– energy, even a considerable part of the solar spectrum lies within this frequency region.

New devices based on the nano-rectenna paradigm are quickly gaining acceptance as viable solutions for scavenging electromagnetic radiation. They rely on the availability of low-cost rectifiers, namely diodes, which can operate at very-high speed with a very-low threshold voltage.

We recently demonstrated a working prototype based on novel ultrafast nanodiodes coupled to infrared micro antennas, which we fabricate in the electronics group cleanroom. Apart from being the first group to clearly demonstrate the conversion of radiant energy to dc power, we also proposed a model based on Brownian ratchets, which correctly accounts for the incoherent nature of thermal radiation.

Staff: Claudio Balocco

Terahertz Plasmonics

The THz band sits at the interface between electronics and photonics. THz imaging and spectroscopy have immense potential in medical imaging, security and biotechnology. In recent years considerable advances have been made in the development of efficient emitters and receivers for THz. Artificial materials can produce THz lenses and filter elements.

Staff: Andrew Gallant and Claudio Balocco

THz Antennas

Free space focusing of terahertz light is normally achieved through the use of parabolic mirrors. Alternatively, for ‘local’ focusing on to a substrate or sample, polished high resistivity silicon lenses are commonly used. The lens design presented here provides a low-cost alternative to silicon lenses. Fresnel lenses can have a large numerical aperture and a short focal length and are well suited for use in terahertz imaging systems.

Staff: Andrew Gallant and Claudio Balocco

Material Characterisation

While dielectric properties of many materials have been extensively characterised at low frequencies and into the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum, published information is much sparser in the THz region. Knowledge of permittivity is essential for the design of devices operating at these frequencies. A system based around a THz vector network analyser (VNA) was assembled to measure the scattering parameters of planar samples in the frequency domain. The number of components required is vastly smaller than that of time-domain spectroscopy systems, reducing system complexity. Free-space propagation of the reference and measured electric fields enabled measurements to be taken without contacting the sample. Non-destructive testing of samples is possible since no machining to fit within a resonant cavity or waveguide is required.

Staff: Andrew Gallant and Claudio Balocco

THz composite materials

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is used as a white colourant in paint, cosmetics, food colouring, etc. due to its large refractive index (n=2.4–2.8) at visible wavelengths. This trait is maintained within the terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Similarly, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is transparent in both visible and THz regions. This flexible silicone polymer is used to manufacture stamps for soft lithography, where feature sizes on the scale of tens of nanometers can be reproduced from moulds. By mixing powdered TiO2 into PDMS prior to curing, a composite material with increased permittivity is obtained. An investigation into the parameters determining complex permittivity of the material and its suitability for microfabricated devices has been performed.

Staff: Andrew Gallant and Claudio Balocco

Main Research Themes

  • Functional polymeric materials for energy applications, e.g. separators for batteries, electrolytes for supercapacitors
  • Porous polymers, synthesis, including emulsion templating, precipitation polymerisation, reaction-induced phase separation, and characterisation
  • Epoxy based materials, e.g. foams, electrolytes for structural supercapacitors
  • Fibre/matrix composites, e.g. carbon fibres/epoxy; their manufacturing and characterisation
  • Use of environmentally friendly and sustainable resources for polymer synthesis/manufacture (e.g. vegetable oils), and processing (e.g. printing, frothing)
  • Smart structural monitoring of wind turbine blades.

Sample Funded Projects

2014 “Autonomous smart sensors for structural health monitoring of wind turbine blades”, DEI Small grant, Durham University (£3.5k) – PI.

2007 – 2009 “Emulsion templating strategies to set and provide strength on demand” was funded by Halliburton Energy Services (USA) (£150k) – Co-I.

2004 – 2005 Royal Society/NATO Fellowship (£18.5k) – PI.

2003 3 months DAAD Postdoctoral Fellowship, DAAD (stipend and travel) – PI.

Staff: Natasha Shirshova


If you are interested in studying for a PhD with us then take a look at our staff profiles via the People tab to the left and get in contact if you have any queries.

Contact Us

T: +44 (0) 191 334 1700