Established in 1990 by Günther Bauer, the Institute of Semiconductor Physics has since expanded to include the Department of Solid State Physics. The institute is home to four full professors, six associate professors, and approximately 90 academic and non-academic personnel (whereby the majority of the latter is financed by third-party funding). The department’s 230 m2 clean room for the production of semiconductor heterostructures and nanostructures is of key significance in regards to almost all of the department’s academic projects. This also includes facilities for the epitaxial production of goods (MBE, MOCVD), metallization of isolators and plating (thermal and sputter coating, plasma coating) and for lateral structures (optical and electron beam lithography, plasma etching). In and outside of the clean room, the institutes have access to laboratories for the structural, optical, electronic and magnetic characterization of nanostructured and components created in the clean room. In this regard, the use of international research infrastructure, particularly beamlines at the ESRF in Grenoble, is especially important. The institute has been involved in a long-term project to develop a special beamline (ID01) for nanodiffraction. In addition to the institute’s scientific projects, the clean room and the characterization facilities play an important role in the support of interdisciplinary projects in Nanoscience and Technology at the JKU’s Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences. Furthermore, there is a successful cooperation effort with the Institute of Solid State Electronics at the TU Vienna and the clean room located there containing partially complementary facilities.
In the past few years, the clean room and the institute’s scientific infrastructure has enabled the department to procure considerable funding for scientific and academic projects and cooperation efforts and conduct more top international research in a number of fields in the area of semiconductor physics. Examples of current research projects include (i) the international special research field SFB IRoN at the FWF, of which from the 10 scientific funded projects, five have been awarded to the Linz institute, (ii) coordinating (NSI) and involvement in the total of three joint projects of the Austrian Nanoinitiative, (iii) coordinating the national research network ICFOF and (iv) the CD lab for surface optical technologies. In addition there are currently 13 individually funded FWF projects, four EU projects and a whole series of national and international cooperation projects. Additional information on all funded projects, involved personnel and scientific results can be found in the institute’s annual report (http://www.hlphys.jku.at/).
The institute clean room was constructed in 1991. From the outset, the institute placed great importance on continually updating basic equipment. In the past few years, the infrastructure program supported by the Ministry of Science has been helpful in the acquisition of new equipment. This includes, for example, a cryo plasma etcher, facilities for a nanoimprint lithography, and a new system of x-ray equipment. However, the institute also has additional facilities and equipment over 15 years old which is unsuitable for remaining internationally competitive.
An important aspect in lieu of the institute’s future role within the international research landscape is a pending generational change in leadership: at the end of 2010 Prof. Günther Bauer will retire and Prof. Wolfgang Jantsch (Dept. of Solid State Physics) will retire at the end of 2011. We are currently looking for a professor to fill the position left vacant by Prof Bauer. To continue Prof. Bauer’s outstanding work in the international semiconductor community, his successor must be in expert in the field of semiconductor physics and nano technology and in a position to not only maintain the department’s top ranking, but also continue to further develop the department and acquire targeted funding.
To reach this goal, the department plans to install a laboratory for ultra fast spectroscopy aimed at studying the dynamics of electrical charges and spin dynamics. In the next few years, this currently popular field of semiconductor physics will be developed into an additional focus of research at the institute along with x-ray structure analysis in an effort to not only become a long-term focus and contribute to the embedment of this field, but also to support conducting international cutting edge research.
3. Measures and Provisions
The (partial) generational change in leadership at the department and intended plans to expand the fields of Optoelectronics and the Spintronics of Semiconductor Nanostructures requires the following investment measures in regards to the clean room:
(i) Optical Ultra Fast Spectroscopy
Ultra fast experiments on electrical charge dynamics and spin dynamics in tailored semiconductor quantum structures will be conducted. The research techniques include time-resolved luminescence, quantum correlation spectroscopy, Faraday and Kerr rotation, pump/probe spectroscopy, and creating higher harmonics. Examples of areas in physics include: coherent control and interconnecting spins to picosecond time scales, exploring quantum optical properties of solid state light emitters, the modulation of electronic conditions of highly dense quantum phases such as excitonic and polaritonic condensates. In the field of Optoelectronics, research will include exploring light sources based on new materials and quantum light sources such as individual photon emitters and emitters with entwined photons.
The lab for optical ultra fast spectroscopy will be constructed in an environment-controlled clean room to eliminate the dispersion of dust particles and control temperature fluctuation.
(ii) Basis Material
The development of short term spectroscopy also requires an accompanying measure for the institute to invest in basis material. In order to continue to remain internationally competitive in this field, it is imperative that the 15-year old molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) be replaced. This also affects other current activities at the institute and the clean room has additional significant added value that will be essential to acquire future projects.
(iii) Electronic Spin Resonance
Spin resonance measurements are necessary in addition to time-resolved optical spectroscopy. In the past years there has been heavy investment in this area and the latest ESR equipment is available, but is limited to a frequency range of 9 GHz. There is a pressing need for equipment with a range to 35GHz.
On one hand, the above measures are indispensable for the further development of a clean room in Linz and the Institute for Semiconductor and Solid State Physics as a whole. On the other hand, additional synergies within the TN will make it possible to develop joint Nano projects with interdisciplinary character and be able to use expanded base material and short term spectroscopy in particular in the future.