School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Professor Anthony O'Neill

Siemens Professor of Microelectronics

Background

Anthony O'Neill joined Newcastle University in 1986, having previously worked at Plessey Research (Caswell) Ltd. He has been Siemens Professor of Microelectronics since 1996. In 1994 he was Visiting Scientist at MIT, Cambridge, Ma, USA. In 2002 He became Royal Society Industry Fellow at Atmel, UK. He was a Visiting Professor at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland in 2009 and at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia in 2017.

Roles and Responsibilities

*  Director of Research, Electrical and Electronic Engineering
*  Director of nanoLAB University Research Centre
*  Leader of eFutures network for electronics research in UK universities, with ~300 members
*  Principal Investigator on EPSRC Projects:  
          -   eFutures
          -   eFuturesXD
          -   Atomic Layer Interface Engineering for Nanoelectronics (ALIEN):contacts
* Joint- Principal Investigator on the Wellcome/EPSRC project
          -   Controlling Abnormal Network Dynamics with Optogenetics (CANDO)
* Co-Investigator on the RCUK projects
          -   EPSRC: Multi-electrode electromyography: developing electrical cross-sectional imaging of skeletal muscle
          -   EPSRC: Underpinning Power Electronics: Devices Theme
          -   MRC/ESPRC: Newcastle Molecular Pathology Node (MICA)
*  Member of EPSRC College
*  Director of NMI, a UK trade organisation for the electronics industry with more than 200 members

Qualifications

BSc, PhD

Memberships

C Eng, Fellow IET, Senior Member IEEE

Research

Anthony is a member of the Emerging Technology and Materials research group and his profile can be viewed on Google Scholar 

Research Interests

My research involves device fabrication in cleanrooms, specialist electrical and material characterisation, computer simulation (e.g. TCAD) and electronic systems.  Current research topics are:

  • Interface engineering and heterogenious integration
  • Ferroelectric materials for nanoelectronics
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Nanoelectronics for future biomedical applications
  • power electronics
  • Interconnects and nanowires for integrated circuits
  • Strained Silicon: materials, technology and characterisation

Potential PhD Research Projects

  • Atomic Layer Interface Engineering for Nanoelectronics
  • Silicon Carbide MOSFETs
  • Biomedical Engineering/electronic interface devices
  • Nanoelectronics circuits for medical applications  
  • Silicon Nanowires: Design, Fabrication and Characterisation
  • Ferroelectrics for nanoelectronics

In more detail:

Atomic Layer Interface Engineering for Nanoelelctronics.

This research considers the prospect of using (i) insulators or (ii) nanoparticles to improve the electrical conductivity of metal/semiconductor contacts. A range of experimental techniques will be used to measure the change in electrical properties brought about by the thin insulator films and the film thickness will be optimised for a range of important semiconductors (with Cambridge University, Analog Devices NPL, CPI.)

Research papers:  low contact resistance using interlayersohmic contacts with island metal films 

 

Silicon Carbide MOSFETs
Silicon Carbide is a wide band-gap semiconductor with exceptional electrical and other material properties.  While it has been studied for many years and used commercially for high performance devices, it has very poor MOS current carrying capability.  Recent progress in III-V semiconductor MOS devices has suggested a new route to overcoming this challenge. The project will cover design, fabrication and characterisation aspects.  It is closely linked to a major UK initiative funded by EPRSC (UPE) where Newcastle University are partners (with Cambridge, Bristol, Warwick) in the device theme.

Research paper: High mobility 4H-SiC MOSFET

 

Biomedical/electronic interface devices

Cross-disciplinary research with academic and clinical staff in neuroscience. Examples include:
 (i) Electroceuticals are electronic micro-systems that will replace pharmaceuticals.  The benefit of this is that electroceuticals can offer closed-loop control without side-effects (whereas pharmaceuticals create many side-effects and are open-loop). Electroceuticals will target individual nerve fibres or specific brain circuits to treat an array of conditions. These treatments will modulate the neural impulses controlling the body, repair lost function and restore health. They could, for example, coax insulin from cells to treat diabetes or regulate food intake to treat obesity. PhD projects will be cross-disciplinary and look at novel electronic devices for necessary sensing, actuating, communication, combined with control electronics. Techniques to locate an assembled micro-system in the body are also sought.
(ii) Neurochips are small wearable or implantable electronic circuits for long-term monitoring and manipulation of neural activity. They have multiple applications in basic neuroscience research (e.g. to study the effects of closed-loop stimulation or investigate patterns of brain activity in waking and sleeping states and have potential for clinical translation as neural prostheses. The next step is to develop optoelectronic Neurochips capable of delivering optical stimulation to brain tissue that has been rendered light-sensitive using optogenetic methods. This PhD project will develop a Neurochip to enable scientific studies that exploit technology being developed in the £10M Wellcome-EPSRC Innovative Engineering for Health project CANDO. The project will thus comprise inter-disciplinary training in microelectronics and neurophysiology (with Imperial College, UCL, Newcastle Institute for Neuroscience and NHS Trust Hospitals).(www.cando.ac.uk)

(iii) Needle electromyography (EMG) is an essential diagnostic test in the investigation of patients with peripheral nerve and muscle disease, such as motor neuron disease. We use microfabrication techniques to produce a novel EMG electrode, of similar diameter to a conventional needle, which will record simultaneously from 64 or 128 points along the needle. This will allow the rapid and accurate localisation of each individual muscle fibre within the muscle, in effect producing an electrical cross-sectional image of the muscle. (with Newcastle Institute for Neuroscience and NHS Trust Hospitals);

 

Piezoelectric sensor/actuator for smart joint replacements

Working with colleagues in biomechanics and in the medical school, a smart implant is proposed, comprising engineered surface properties for optimal bonding to the host tissue and piezoelectric sensor/actuator to monitor stress and ultrasonic enhancement of osseointegration. The implants will meet demands in the burgeoning personalised implant market.  The project involves growth, processing and charactertisation of piezoelectric electro-mechanical materials.

 

Silicon Nanowires: Design, Fabrication and Characterisation

Develop novel fabrication techniques to make silicon nanowires, e.g. using oxidation combined with etching, together with characterisation and modelling. Devices will be used to study extreme nanoelectronics and can be applied to medical sensors/actuators.  Atomic layer deposition can be used to coat wires to further investigate properties and applications.

Research paper: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0957-4484/27/42/425302/

 

Ferroelectrics for nanoelectronics

Ferroelectrics have the potential to make a major impact on future electronic technologies and products.  Examples include low power CMOS, tuneable capacitors, and novel memory elements (e.g. memristors). The project covers deposition of thin film ferroelectric films with extensive material and electrical characterisation, through to first principles modelling to understand thin film ferroelectrics and their interfaces.  You will work in one or more of these areas depending on your interests (with ImperialCollege, CPI and Intel).

Research paper: first demonstration of negative capacitance

 



The School website has more information on research degrees and funding.

Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching

Electronic Devices EEE3020, PHY3026

Postgraduate Teaching

Advanced Electronic Devices EEE8018, EEE8123

Publications