Postings at imec

  • Posted by Grant Holder Manager
  • On 8 April 2021

At imec, in Leuven, Belgium, in affiliation with KU-Leuven along with other universities from around the world, PhD students have the excitement of working in an international environment with world-class expertise and using state-of-the-art facilities. Besides R&D with world-leading companies, imec strongly invests in fundamental research. This long-term research is key for imec’s research funnel. It is the base of our future R&D leading to industrial innovations. Currently, imec has numerous PhD and Postdoc offerings of interest to the molecular dynamics community. Examples:

Understanding through first-principles simulations ferroelectric / multiferroic materials properties from interfaces to polycrystallinity and switching dynamics

PhD – Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Understanding through first-principles simulations ferroelectric / multiferroic materials properties from interfaces to polycrystallinity and switching dynamics | imec (<>

Explore materials and interfaces at atomic scale to give solutions for next-generation memory technologies

The microelectronics industry is facing a roadblock on the Moore’s law of miniaturization, hence there is a need to employ new physical principles, materials and devices to keep improving the energy efficiency and performance of logic/memory technologies and go beyond simple downscaling. On that front, several emerging memory technologies, based on ferroelectricity/magnetism gain traction. The proposed SCM (Storage Class Memory) is positioned between fast/volatile DRAM and the slow/non-volatile FLASH. One of the possible technologies to use as memory cell would be ferroelectric switching of polarization in a FEFET transistor. Other newly emerging fields, like quantum computers would take advantage of mixed memory-logic devices, built with multiferroic materials.

To help improve the existing technologies or build the medium-to-long-term vision for the future microelectronics devices, there is a need to understand theoretical limitations, properties, and interactions of different ferroelectric / multiferroic materials that build-up complex memory or logic devices. However, these types of materials require deeper understanding in terms of defects, interaction with other materials that they are in contact with (effective work functions, for example), morphology change in time (phase transformations or ferroelectric switching) of complex polycrystalline films, multiferroic interactions, etc.

In this Ph.D. project, we aim at solving this issue by taking advantage of first-principles simulations, which are excellent for understanding thin films, (metallic electrode) interfaces, electronic/ thermal properties, and the effect of defects on those properties on ferroelectric/multiferroic materials. As such, they can be used to understand and select the best materials for a specific device at hand. If a larger-scale insight is needed to understand the polycrystalline/polydomain ferroelectric switching dynamics in different types of device shapes and sizes, the multiscale approach can be used to feed atomistic-derived data into larger scale models (based on neuromorphic principles, for example) to gain understanding at larger size/time-scales. Building fundamental insights on the materials interaction and evolution in time at different scales will help developing the much-needed theoretical understanding of materials performance and reliability and constitutes the skeleton of this PhD project.

During this project, the PhD. student will be performing state-of-the-art ab initio calculations. Carrying-on this correctly and efficiently requires a proper understanding of the theoretical concepts on which the methods are based and on their implementation in computer code to be executed on super computers. The type of simulations to perform also requires an understanding of the relevant chemistry. The understanding and the necessary skills will be trained at imec.

Eligibility criteria: Master’s degree in physics or chemistry (focusing on theoretical aspects). Due to the complexity and the high amount of individual calculations, an efficient and robust automation and data processing infrastructure is essential. We continuously develop and improve such an infrastructure for all our calculations, written in python. Good knowledge of this language is hence required. A strong motivation, a good knowledge of solid-state physics or quantum chemistry and UNIX/LINUX are a plus. Excellent writing and oral communication skills are desired.

Required background: Solid State Physics / Computational Chemistry / Engineering Science

Type of work: 45% modeling/simulation, 45% data interpretation, 10% literature



Postdoc Development of EUV-based coherent diffractive imaging for nanoscale device inspection Research & development – Leuven | More than two weeks ago Postdoc Development of EUV-based coherent diffractive imaging for nanoscale device inspection | imec (<>

The semiconductor industry relies on quantitative nanoscale imaging to inspect devices and components. This project will develop non-destructive, quantitative coherent diffraction imaging techniques compatible with modern and future semiconductor device architectures.

What you will do

The semiconductor industry routinely relies on nanoscale imaging methodologies for inspection and characterization of nanoscale features in devices and components. However, many of these metrologies are destructive, compatible with a limited sample set, or provide little or no chemical characterization. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) coherent diffractive imaging (CDI) is a new approach for nanoscale imaging that utilizes diffraction patterns obtained from an impinging photo beam to reconstruct images of a sample via phase retrieval algorithms and is compatible with a diverse sample set. CDI is non-destructive and, when performed with EUV light, can yield nanoscale, chemically specific images of transmissive and reflective samples (e.g., thin films/2D materials and device stacks, respectively).

Imec’s AttoLab is a state-of-the-art metrology laboratory equipped with bright, coherent, tabletop sources which, working on the high harmonic generation (HHG) principle, emit attosecond pulses of tunable EUV light (56-10.3 nm). These sources will be used for performing CDI experiments in both reflection and transmission geometries, with achievable image resolutions of a few 10’s of nm (lateral) and sub-nm (axial). In addition to standard CDI geometries, this project will explore advanced CDI techniques such as ptychographic CDI and CDI coupled with reflectometry for quantitative chemical imaging with a large field of view.

The grand challenge of coherent diffractive inspection is the reconstruction of the image from the diffraction patterns and due to the complexity of this process the main focus of this project will be on algorithm development using multithreading GPU processing and machining learning. Additionally, the immense versatility of the HHG EUV sources enables unexplored imaging modalities such as structured illumination CDI, single pixel detection, and time-resolved CDI with few-nm and few-femtosecond spatiotemporal resolution, each of which comes with a dedicated set of development needs. The results of this work will not only provide a yet-to-be-realized metrology pipeline for the semiconductor industry, but also pave the way for non-destructive, quantitative, nanoscale imaging of semiconductor components and devices, while also informing design strategy for device optimization.

Supervisor: Claudia Fleischmann

Co-supervisor: John Petersen

What we do for you

We offer you the opportunity to join one of the world’s premier research centers in nanotechnology at its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. With your talent, passion and expertise, you’ll become part of a team that makes the impossible possible. Together, we shape the technology that will determine the society of tomorrow. We are proud of our open, multicultural, and informal working environment with ample possibilities to take initiative and to show responsibility. We commit to supporting and guiding you in this process; not only with words but also with tangible actions. Through, ‘our corporate university’, we actively invest in your development to further your technical and personal growth.

We are aware that your valuable contribution makes imec a top player in its field. Your energy and commitment are therefore appreciated by means of a competitive salary.

Who you are

We are seeking an outstanding candidate with enthusiasm for a mix of experimental and computational imaging science, with a PhD degree in physics, applied mathematics, data science, or an equivalent specialization. The candidate should be able to work in an international environment and good written and oral communication skills in English are a prerequisite. Experience in experimental ultrafast optics, coherent imaging, and phase retrieval techniques is required.

Motivation: Developing and realizing non-destructive, extreme ultraviolet, coherent diffractive imaging techniques suitable for semiconductor devices, interfaces, and materials.

Type of work: 70% computation, 20% experimental, 10% literature

Requirements: coherent imaging, algorithm-based image reconstruction



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