Atomic-scale defect structures in dielectric materials: calculations and experiments

Program Code: 

Terry Frankcombe (

Description of Work: 

Dielectric materials are vital for the functioning of all modern electronic devices, being found in capacitors and elements such as touch screens. They are also central to a range of other technological applications, such as photocatalytic reactors. Developing new, practical dielectric materials with high permittivity but low dielectric loss can have significant impacts on the global economy.

One feature that can have dramatic control over a material's dielectric behaviour is the presence of atomic-scale defect structures. For example, we have recently demonstrated that doping small amounts of indium and niobium into titanium dioxide increases the permittivity by three orders of magnitude without substantial loss, and that this effect is caused by structured defects.

This is a collaborative project with materials researchers at the nearby Australian National University. The project explores defect structures in dielectric materials through computational modelling, with a view to developing and rationalising practical materials. The project can be part computational and part experimental in nature, or purely computational with experimental support from other group members, depending on the skills and interest of the candidate.