Department of Physics and Astronomy
Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Alex Shluger's group
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Kamal Petal

About me

I studied an undergraduate degree at Loughborough University, where I obtained an MPhys in Engineering Physics. In the penultimate year of my degree, I completed a yearlong placement at Weatherford International developing a NMR tool. During this time, I found working in research enjoyable and realised that I would like to continue to a postgraduate study. Returning to Loughborough, my masters project was focussed on developing a magneto-optic Kerr effect magnetometer. After completion of my degree in 2016, I joined Alex Shluger's group, allowing me to join a project focussed on both theoretical and experimental physics. The project is supported by Prof. Anthony Kenyon in the Electrical Engineering department at UCL and the Agency of Science Technology and Research in Singapore (A-STAR) where I will be spending two years of the doctorate.


My research is focussed towards developing an understanding of the forming and switching mechanisms in amorphous oxides within metal-insulator-metal memory stacks. Under the application of a high voltage, these stacks undergo a `forming' process where a conduction path is formed through the insulating layer of the stack. The stacks can then be switched from low to high resistance states by application of relatively low voltages. These states can be used as memory for non-volatile random-access memory devices. To better understand the forming and switching mechanisms, we aim to study the structural dynamics of the stacks under electrical stressing with in situ STM/TEM measurements as well as ex situ C-AFM and TEM measurements. It is known that the mechanisms involve the creation and aggregation of oxygen vacancies in the insulating layer. First principles calculations of the stacks using density functional theory will be carried out in conjunction with the experimental measurements looking at the formation and aggregation of defects. The calculations aim to build an atomistic view of the structural dynamics within the stacks, supported by the experimental measurements.

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