/The search for long-lived electron traps in amorphous dielectrics by using popcorn noise, for interconnect scaling & quantum computing

The search for long-lived electron traps in amorphous dielectrics by using popcorn noise, for interconnect scaling & quantum computing

Internship/thesis - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Using prolonged noise measurements to reveal the presence of a Lorentzian plateau at ultra-low frequencies, to better understand the physics of dielectric breakdown 

1/f noise, also known as a burst signal or popcorn noise, is an interesting and mysterious topic. It is a very common and widespread physical phenomenon (although poorly understood), as 1/f noise appears in all sorts of materials and electronic devices, in biological tissues and membranes, in financial stock markets and computer network traffic, in superconducting quantum circuits, in gravitational wave astronomy and early universe cosmology, in weather forecasting and climate science, etc. It is clear that a fundamental understanding of the physics of 1/f noise is very important for the advancement of science and technology. Unfortunately, a universal physical model of 1/f noise is still missing, especially when it comes to amorphous dielectric materials used in semiconductor devices. 
In this project, 1/f noise in dielectrics will be investigated. In insulators, 1/f noise is produced by crystallographic defects or ‘traps’. Each of these traps has a ‘lifetime’ over which it becomes electrically active and participates in 1/f noise production. The longer the timespan over which we measure 1/f noise, the more of these ‘long-lived’ traps can be detected. Finding the trap with the largest lifetime is an important achievement, as this would be a first indication of the physical origin of the 1/f noise spectrum, a question still left unanswered in modern physics. 

What will you do? 

  • Determine the optimal measurement voltage that allows to probe traps for sufficiently long times without breaking down the dielectric
  • Perform 1/f noise measurements for different timespans, e.g. 10 s, 100 s, 1000 s, etc.
  • Analyze and interpret the spectra and the underlying statistical distributions of the 1/f noise, and develop a physical model to explain the observed trends in the data 

Who are you?

  • You have a basic knowledge of semiconductor materials physics
  • You have a science or engineering background with basic programming skills
  • You are interested in experimental work, in state-of-the-art facilities at imec


  1. N. Saini et al., IEEE IITC/MAM (2023). https://doi.org/10.1109/IITC/MAM57687.2023.10154814
  2. H. Choi et al. IEEE EDL (2009). https://doi.org/10.1109/LED.2009.2015586
  3. R. Degraeve et al., IEEE TED (1998). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2147714
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_noise
  5. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/365405/1-f-noise-is-it-limited 

Type of work: 50 % experimental, 30 % data analysis, 20 % interpretation

Duration: Minimum 3 months

Language requirements: English 

Type of Project: Internship 

Bachelor's program/required background: hysics, Electrical Engineering, Nanotechnology, Materials Science, Materials Engineering 

For more information or application, please contact Davide Tierno (davide.tierno@imec.be) and Nishant Saini (nishant.saini@imec.be

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