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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R028656/1
Title: Anti-ferroelectric materials for non-volatile memory applications
Principal Investigator: Vopson, Dr M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Iowa State University National Institute for Materials Physics Western Digital Corporation
Department: Sch of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Scheme: Overseas Travel Grants (OTGS)
Starts: 02 July 2018 Ends: 01 January 2019 Value (£): 11,686
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electronic Devices & Subsys.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The worldwide demand for digital data storage is increasing exponentially. IBM estimates that 2.5 quintillion of digital data bytes are produced every day on Earth (2.5 x 1018 bytes = 2.5 Exabytes = 2.5 billion Gigabytes). This huge digital data storage demand has two consequences:

a) the increased power consumption of data storage servers;

b) the perpetual need to develop data storage technologies that meet the increasing demand at reduced cost and power consumption.

These issues have prompted the acceleration of research into solid-state memories, which are fast replacing traditional magnetic hard disc drives in almost all consumer electronics and portable devices.

In Dec. 2016 and Jan. 2017, the principal investigator (PI) of this travel grant and his co-investigator from Iowa State University, proposed and demonstrated, for the first time, a novel solid-state memory effect in bulk anti-ferroelectric ceramic materials [1-3]. Although this is a very promising discovery, the authors pointed out a few issues that required further investigation, including a relaxation process that significantly limited the signal recovered from a memory cell. In addition, it was acknowledged that the effect was observed in bulk anti-ferroelectric materials, while solid-state memory chips are based on thin films.

This modest EPSRC overseas travel grant (< £15k), seeks to swiftly redress these issues by facilitating five weeks travel to three overseas institutions, in two countries, in order to perform specialized experiments on anti-ferroelectric materials and to acquire key skills that will advance our understanding of anti-ferroelectric materials and potentially accelerate the commercialization of this research. By working with leading researchers in the field of data storage technologies at Western Digital (WD) - California, physics of anti-ferroelectric materials at Iowa State University (ISU) and experts in Mossbauer Spectroscopy at the National Institute of Materials Pysics (NIMP) in Bucharest, the PI will have the opportunity to study relaxation processes and memory effect in anti-ferroelectric thin films. In addition, the PI will acquire valuable new experimental skills such as: fabrication of anti-ferroelectric materials and their domains imaging using in-situ Transmission Electron Microscopy (ISU), device architecture / solid state memory cell testing (WD) and Mossbauer Spectroscopy (NIMP). This is an excellent value for money low-risk / high-gain EPSRC travel grant, with huge potential for academic, societal and economic impacts.

[1]. M. Vopson, X. Tan, 4-state anti-ferroelectric random access memory, Electron Device Letters (2016).

[2]. M. Vopson, G. Caruntu, X. Tan, Polarization reversal and memory effect in anti-ferroelectric materials, Scripta Materialia vol. 128, 61-64 (2017).

[3]. M. Vopson, X. Tan, Nonequilibrium polarization dynamics in antiferroelectrics, Physical Review B 96 (1), 014104 (2017)
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.port.ac.uk