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Physical Deposition and Characterisation

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The Royce Physical Deposition and Characterisation Facility (PDCF) is hosted in the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge in the Centre for Materials Physics.  The PDCF enables the growth of thin films and devices with sub-nm thickness control of individual layers, underpinning the development of advanced functional materials and devices for energy-efficient electronics. In particular, the facility focuses on optimising nanoscale materials and devices with targeted properties to enable low-power electronics, quantum technologies, and energy harvesting.

The PDCF includes five computer-controlled sputter deposition systems that enable the growth of up to 11 different materials in a single deposition, an ultra-high vacuum electron beam deposition system, as well as a suite of equipment to fabricate devices.  This suite includes an optical mask aligner and electron beam lithography system, a focused ion beam microscope, and an atomic force microscope.

Platform Lead

Prof. Jason Robinson

Technology Platform Lead: Physical Deposition and Characterisation 

Jason Robinson has a Professorial Chair in Materials Physics at the University of Cambridge where he is the joint Head of the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy. He directs the Quantum Materials & Devices Group and the Centre for Materials Physics. His experimental research is concerned with foundational science to develop advanced multifunctional materials and nanoelectronic devices to approach key challenges in spintronics, superconductivity, and quantum electronics research. Many of the materials and devices his group investigate are new, promising disruptive science and long-term potential for energy-efficient memory and logic for future large-scale computing applications. The research is highly collaborative, making use of a broad range of experimental techniques as well as theory. He is particularly interested in the discovery of the nature, properties, and mechanisms which determine the interfacial states that arise in hybrid materials and devices, and which may dominate over bulk equilibrium properties at atomically controlled interfaces. He has made major contributions to the fields of superconductivity and spintronics, including the discovery of spin-polarised triplet Cooper pairs, and pioneering superconducting spintronics.


A computer-controlled growth chamber for RF and DC magnetron sputtering of thin films with sub-nm thickness control. The system has a base pressure of greater than 10−8 mbar, and enables the growth of up to 11 materials in a single deposition. Substrates with a diameter of up to 10cm can be loaded and the substrate heater, which operates at up to 850°C, enables epitaxial growth. The chamber includes an RF plasma gun for surface cleaning, a quartz crystal thickness monitor, and load lock for high-throughput fabrication of samples.

The facility includes four custom-built, highly versatile, ultra-high vacuum DC magnetron sputtering systems which enable the growth of up to five different target materials in a single deposition with automated thickness control. These systems are also set up for reactive sputtering of nitrides and non-conductive oxides.

This five-target system can evaporate high-purity polycrystalline metallic thin films including Au, Nb, Pt, V, Al, and Cu. The system includes a quartz crystal thickness monitor, and a load lock to enable high-sample throughput.

This system enables anisotropic, non-selective etching of metallic and insulating thin films.

A Bruker Multimode 8 with Nanoscope 5 controller with multiple modes of operation, including: contact; tapping; and peak force modes; standard atomic force microscopy; magnetic force microscopy; piezoelectric force microscopy; and Kelvin probe force microscopy.

A LEO/ZEISS 1455VP scanning electron microscope equipped with Raith Elphy Quantum for device fabrication. The system can apply accelerating voltages from 200V to 30kV with a single write field up to 1000μm, 250nm feature resolution exposed using a 400μm write field, and PC-based pattern generator which allows up to 63 different layers.