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Sarah Ruddell

Sarah Ruddell

Sarah joined the CDT in September 2017, having previously completed an MSci in Chemistry at Queen's University Belfast.

In Semester 1 of 2017-18 Sarah completed a short exploratory research project at the University of Glasgow in Laser irradiation for tuning of photonic integrated circuits, supervised by Professor Marc Sorel. In Semester 2 of 2017-18, she conducted a practical research project at Queen's University Belfast supervised by Professor Robert Bowman, Synthesis & plasmonic properties of nitrides.


CDT PhD Project



Professor Robert Bowman, Queen's University Belfast

Professor Robert Hadfield, University of Glasgow

In the last few years there is great interest in the integration of plasmonic materials into the recording heads to create a near field transducer (NFT), which is the key component to transmit energy to the disk to locally raise the disk temperature, reducing the magnetic coercive field, and so facilitate HAMR (heat assisted magnetic recording) for magnetic hard disk drive technology.

The obvious noble metal/alloy candidate materials for the plasmonic NFT currently lack the necessary thermal stability to provide a long-term solution. Seagate Technology have identified a Figure of Merit (FOM) that captures the key performance required of the NFT.  Potential avenues of work are to look at novel ternary alloys exploiting either novel elements in the periodic table rarely used outside niche microelectronics, explore engineered layered metals for low-loss plasmonics or consider strategies to create refractory plasmonic materials without refractory metals by using advanced nanofabrication techniques for features of a similar dimension to the NFT (e.g. 50 nm or less). Currently ZrN thin films are being investigated with alternative seed layers and doping. Advanced deposition techniques, specifically DC magnetron sputtering, both heated and unheated, and an optical metrology testing protocol developed by another CDT student will be used, having subjected the materials to various process challenge protocols as well. The other Seagate CDT project: Bringing ab-initio design to the lab: design of new plasmonic materials, will be interacted with to inform research directions. Further technical direction and input will be provided via Seagate Technology.