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Research Fellows Directory

Shannon Nicley

Dr Shannon Nicley

Research Fellow


University of Oxford

Research summary

My research has focused on the growth of doped diamond for high power electronics, a field closely related to my engineering background. There is still a significant component of craftsmanship in this work, and doped diamond growth remains an art as much as a science, making skill in this field a rare commodity. I have concentrated on determining the factors in this craft that are most critical for high quality films, with much success. During my PhD I designed and built a dedicated low boron (B) doping reactor, and fabricated novel diode structures. I am currently investigating phosphorus (P) doping on (100) and (111) substrates, studying the influence of the growth temperature on morphology and P-incorporation, as I had previously done with B-incorporation. I have also developed several other research lines, including novel dopants for n-type diamond and colour centre applications, and diamond growth on gold to study surface functionalisation by ATR.

I chose to work in diamond growth because of the many exciting applications that become possible by unlocking its secrets. One particularly interesting application is quantum key distribution (QKD), where diamond is used in encrypting information that is transferred securely using the principles of quantum mechanics. Using QKD, bank transactions and other encrypted data could become "unhackable," a huge step forward for society. Entanglement generation, one of the key processes needed to perform QKD, has stability issues that lead to impractically low data transmission rates, for example the record is only one bit every 4.5 minutes. My novel solution that I will be investigating at Oxford Univeristy as a Newton Fellow uses diamond with small concentrations of phosphorus, which provide extra electrons that stabilize the entanglement process. By optimising diamond growth for quantum applications, I will be able to demonstrate an entanglement generation rate 25x higher than the state-of-the-art during this fellowship, a huge step toward realising QKD.

Grants awarded

Phosphorus doped synthetic diamond for enhanced quantum entanglement generation rates

Scheme: Newton International Fellowships

Dates: Mar 2018 - Mar 2020

Value: £99,000