Department of Physics and Astronomy
Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Alex Shluger's group
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Oliver Dicks

About me

I obtained my bachelor's degree in physics (BA Hons) from the University of Oxford in 2011 before moving to University College London to study for my Masters (MSc), which I obtained in 2012. During my Master's year I focused on condensed matter physics and quantum mechanics and studied thin film ZnO2 nanoparticle transistors for my dissertation.

From 2012 I have been studying at the Molecular Modelling and Materials Simulation (M3S) Doctoral Training Centre at UCL studying defects in LaAlO3. I am supported by both the Thomas Young Centre and Argonne National Laboratory.


The overall aim of my current research project is to investigate the properties of point defects in LaAlO3 (LAO). Understanding these defects is a crucial step towards controlling the properties of LAO-containing polar/non-polar oxide hetero-junctions, such as LaAlO3/SrTiO3 (001) which exhibits a 2-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) at the interface. It is thought that oxygen vacancies may play a large role in the creation of the 2DEG and through the use of electronic structure methods such as TDDFT we can identify defects from experimental data such as optical absorption and NMR spectra. The most recent phase of the project involves modelling the various surfaces of LAO to understand thin film growth and the effect of defects on surface reconstruction.

I have also begun researching electron trapping in amorphous Al2O3, of interest in microelectronics and the next generation of photovoltaics. Although not a glass former, when thin films of alumina are deposited at low temperatures using techniques such as MBE or PLD the structure of the film is amorphous as opposed to crystalline. The amorphous films have different properties to the crystalline films formed after high temperature annealing. The project will involve constructing realistic models of the amorphous system using molecular dynamics simulations before using DFT to calculate the electronic structure.

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