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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Z531121/1
Title: Precision Dry Etching of 2D Materials: 2DETCH
Principal Investigator: Gorbachev, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Falko, Professor V Haigh, Professor SJ Lulla Ramrakhiyani, Dr K
Geim, Professor Sir A Howard, Mr RJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research TFS
Starts: 01 May 2024 Ends: 30 April 2026 Value (£): 888,777
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Bionanotechnology Materials Characterisation
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Chemicals Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Scope: Nanotechnology lies at the heart of most modern technologies, from aerospace and automotive industries to optoelectronics through to surgical implants. Nanofabrication relies on a number of essential steps, including materials growth, device patterning and deposition of electrical contacts. In the last decade, 2D Materials (2DM) and their heterostructures have developed into a large multidisciplinary field. Their unique electronic, optical, mechanical and thermal properties have led to their use to demonstrate novel and improved performance in key areas of nanotechnology such as sustainable energy production and storage, sensors, low power electronics, communications and quantum technologies. Many billions of dollars are currently being invested in the EU, China, Korea and USA to scale up the infrastructure needed to transition 2DM technology to meet the demands of these applications.

Vision: This proposal will provide a key experimental etching capability necessary to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in 2D materials nanofabrication. We propose to purchase a new state-of-the-art dry etching system, with capabilities to etch layers with atomic scale precision. This tool is one of the first commercial instruments allowing for atomic layer etching (ALE) and will enable controllable layer-by-layer 2D materials removal, currently not available anywhere in the UK. We will develop protocols and methodology to enable ALE functionality for key 2D materials and experimentally verify the results with a wide range of characterisation tools. The instrument will both provide new research capabilities and replace the current RIE system at National Graphene Institute which has reached the end of its life (15 years) to perform a broad range of already established tasks. The proposed instrument will be embedded in a world-leading centre of excellence for 2DM with dedicated staff support. It will be accessible to the whole UK 2D materials community through the Royce access scheme creating new opportunities for fundamental studies and supporting industrial development of 2D materials applications.

The new etching platform will have the following key focus areas for 2DM applications:

Low Power Electronics and Quantum Technologies: the new etcher will provide the ability to shape nanoscale devices with a high degree of tuneability but also at the wafer scale, with precise control of thicknesses, interfaces and electrical contacts.

Sustainable Energy Generation and Storage: This facility will enable fabrication of model 2DM surfaces to generate new understanding of their function in electrodes and catalysis. It will also allow model nanoporous membranes to be synthesised and applied to generate new knowledge of their optimal geometries for fuel cells and in electrolysers.

Biomolecular Sensors for Healthy Living: The proposed capability will advance creation of nanofluidic devices with angstrom-sized channels that enable unprecedented opportunities for nanoscale chemical sensing, molecular sieving and biomolecular analysis.

To achieve this, the key objectives are:

To develop and benchmark new world-leading capabilities for Atomic Layer Etching of 2DM.

To successfully transition all current 2D etching to the new system, demonstrating equal or improved performance.

To generate a suite of reliable protocols for different materials systems, providing improved efficiency by removing the current requirements to perform many repeat etchings simply to optimise fabrication conditions.

Advertise the new capabilities to the whole UK 2D materials community, adding procedures if required in order to ensure broad usage of the system across the full range of application areas.
Key Findings
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk