13 June 2021

Babak Bakhit, a former PhD at Thin Film Physics Division at IFM, has been awarded the prestigious International Postdoc Grant from Swedish Research Council (VR).

Babak Bakhit
Babak Bakhit

Babak Bakhit will spend three years at the University of Cambridge, UK, to develop a new class of state-of-the-art vertically aligned nanocomposite (VAN) thin films as advanced oxides for memory applications in collaboration with Professors Judith MacManus-Driscoll (Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy) and Andrew Flewitt (Department of Engineering).

The grant is awarded for the years 2021 to 2024. The value of Babak Bakhit’s research grant is 3.6 million SEK.

“It is my pleasure that I have received this fellowship, in the first try. The fellowship will enable me to study functional thin films with complex nanostructures, to work with many advanced tools in large world-leading groups, and to expand my international network”, says Babak Bakhit.

Qualified researchers

The VR International Postdoc Grant aims to offer qualified researchers, who have recently completed their PhDs at a Swedish Higher Education Institutions. It is an opportunity to expand their networks and qualifications through working abroad under secure employment conditions. The Swedish Research Council received a total of 63 applications in natural and engineering sciences subject area in the 2021 Spring call. Only 14 applications have been granted.
Rapidly growing data-centric technologies consume a huge amount of the world’s electricity. In this context, low-power, non-volatile memories (NVMs) are urgently needed. They are necessary for many applications requiring long battery life and can significantly reduce power usage. Oxide memristors (memory resistors) are among the most promising emerging NVMs. They have a metal-insulator-metal structure with an oxide thin film sandwiched between two metal electrodes. They have similar switching characteristics of synapses in human brains; thus, can be used as the future of artificial intelligent devices for neuromorphic computing. However, they still have serious issues.

Magnetron sputtering

A new thin-film nanostructure design is required to overcome their challenges and achieve superior functionalities.
“This goal can be attained by growing VAN thin films that can provide unique, highly-tunable memristive properties. To date, VANs have been mainly grown by pulsed laser deposition, but in this project, I will grow them by magnetron sputtering; a non-equilibrium synthesis technique that typically gives columnar structure, which is crucial for high-performance memristors.” proposes Babak Bakhit.
Babak Bakhit’s PhD-studies was about the growth of multifunctional diboride thin films by ion-assisted magnetron sputtering, working with several materials characterization techniques within the department.

"A material scientist"

Babak Bakhit's PhD thesis, completed in four years and two months, comprises seven publications, where he is the first and corresponding author of all. He has also contributed to several side projects from both academia and industry, such as the JUICE project with European Space Agency that he successfully grew thin films on large spheres, which are parts of Langmuir probes for exploring atmosphere around Jupiter moons.

“I am a materials scientist who is interested in growing complex nanostructures with tunable functionalities. I am happy for doing PhD in Thin Film Physics Division, a dynamic group with experts who encourage young researchers to explore their own ideas and build the foundation of their scientific empires” says Babak Bakhit.


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