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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R024278/1
Title: A state-of-the-art optical floating-zone furnace for crystal growth at high pressures
Principal Investigator: Boothroyd, Professor AT
Other Investigators:
Walmsley, Professor IA Prabhakaran, Dr D Radaelli, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Oxford Physics
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 March 2018 Ends: 31 August 2020 Value (£): 893,916
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Dec 2017 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel December 2017 (1) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
We are surrounded by man-made objects that perform a function for us - cell phones, computers, robots, cars, domestic appliances and so on, to name but a few. These devices are packed full of electronic, magnetic or optical components whose operation depends on the special properties of the constituent materials. For example, many of the electronic devices we use contain very highly purified silicon in single crystal form whose semiconductor characteristics makes it suitable to support integrated circuits.



More generally, new technologies depend on the development of materials which can perform different functions for us. The process which leads to new and better materials for applications is one of discovery, understanding, modelling and optimization. A key early step in this journey is the preparation of the material in single crystal form. Single crystals are a form of matter with a high degree of perfection at the atomic level, and are essential for the fundamental research that determines how materials behave under different conditions, and why. It is therefore important for the science and technology of materials that techniques exist to prepare single crystals.

This proposal seeks funding to install and operate a piece of equipment to prepare crystals called an optical floating-zone furnace. This type of furnace uses light as a heat source and mirrors to focus the light energy onto a bar of material in order to melt it. By slowing scanning the molten ("floating") zone along the bar one can grow a crystal as the liquid solidifies. The type of furnace we request is a new design of optical floating-zone furnace which allows the growth process to take place in a high pressure (up to 300 times atmospheric pressure) mixture of oxygen and argon gas. The use of a high gas pressure makes it possible to grow crystals of certain materials which cannot be grown under normal conditions.

The equipment we are requesting will be the first of its type in the UK, and will be used to grow a broad range of materials, ranging from metal oxides that exhibit desirable magnetic, electronic and superconducting properties, through systems with novel quantum phases to materials that offer considerable promise for use in energy, optoelectronic and information storage applications. Once installed and commissioned, we will operate a programme of crystal growth with the new equipment to provide samples which will ensure the success of quantum and functional materials research in Oxford and other UK universities, and at the national research facilities such as the Diamond Light Source and ISIS Facility on the Harwell campus.
Key Findings
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Summary
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk