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Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director
Physics and Astronomy | Physics P-102 | 631-632-4978, Physics B-104
Research Group Website | Teaching Website

Matt Dawber has been on the faculty at Stony Brook since 2008. Prior to that he was a postdoctoral associate at the University of Geneva from 2004-2008, having completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge from 2000-2003. If you hear him talk it won't take you too long to realize he is orginally from Sydney, Australia.

Research Statement
Matt Dawber's group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University is focused on the growth, characterization and understanding of ferroelectric materials and other oxides. Besides a general interest in ferroelectric materials the focus in this lab is on producing superlattice materials where interfacial coupling gives rise to either enhanced or totally new behaviour.  Ferroelectric materials possess high degrees of functionality, with highly exploitable electrical, mechanical and optical properties. As the most studied ferroelectrics are transition metal oxides with perovskite crystal structure their integration into heterostructure devices with other transition metal oxides with different but equally exciting properties (e.g., magnetism and superconductivity) is a direction that shows enormous potential for both exciting physics and breakthrough devices.

A general review of the physics of ferroelectric oxide thin films can be found at: Dawber M, Rabe KM, Scott JF, Reviews of Modern Physics 77 1083 (2005).
There is also a recent book from Springer that covers a broad range of topics in ferroelectrics from a modern viewpoint: Physics of Ferroelectrics, A Modern Perspective (Topics in Applied Physics, Vol 105, (2007) eds. Rabe KM, Ahn CH, Triscone JM.
Ferroelectrics are also important materials for non-volatile memory applications, and this topic is well covered in: Ferroelectric Memories, Scott JF, Springer 2000

Highlight Publications

Role of ferroelectric polarization during growth of highly strained ferroelectric materials

Rui Liu, Jeffrey G. Ulbrandt, Hsiang-Chun Hsing, Anna Gura, Benjamin Bein, Alec Sun, Charles Pan, Giulia Bertino, Amanda Lai, Kaize Cheng, Eli Doyle, Kenneth Evans-Lutterodt, Randall L. Headrick, Matthew Dawber

Nature Communications 11 2630 (2020) doi:10.1038/s41467-020-16356-9 (Open Access)

In ferroelectric thin films and superlattices, the polarization is intricately linked to crystal structure. Here we show that it can also play an important role in the growth process, influencing growth rates, relaxation mechanisms, electrical properties and domain structures. This is studied by focusing on the properties of BaTiO3 thin films grown on very thin layers of PbTiO3 using x-ray diffraction, piezoforce microscopy, electrical characterization and rapid in-situ x-ray diffraction reciprocal space maps during the growth using synchrotron radiation. Using a simple model we show that the changes in growth are driven by the energy cost for the top material to sustain the polarization imposed upon it by the underlying layer, and these effects may be expected to occur in other multilayer systems where polarization is present during growth. This motivates the concept of polarization engineering as a complementary approach to strain engineering.

In-situ x-ray diffraction and the evolution of polarization during the growth of ferroelectric superlattices

Benjamin Bein, Hsiang-Chun Hsing, Sara J. Callori, John Sinsheimer, Priya V. Chinta, Randall L. Headrick, Matthew Dawber

Nature Communications 6 10136 (2015) doi:10.1038/ncomms10136 (Open Access)

In epitaxially strained ferroelectric thin films and superlattices, the ferroelectric transition temperature can lie above the growth temperature. Ferroelectric polarization and domains should then evolve during the growth of a sample, and electrostatic boundary conditions may play an important role. In this work, ferroelectric domains, surface termination, average lattice parameter and bilayer thickness are simultaneously monitored using in-situ synchrotron x-ray diffraction during the growth of BaTiO3/SrTiO3 superlattices on SrTiO3 substrates by off-axis RF magnetron sputtering. The technique used allows for scan times substantially faster than the growth of a single layer of material. Effects of electric boundary conditions are investigated by growing the same superlattice alternatively on SrTiO3 substrates and 20nm SrRuO3 thin films on SrTiO3 substrates. These experiments provide important insights into the formation and evolution of ferroelectric domains when the sample is ferroelectric during the growth process.

This manuscript is also available on the arxiv:

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Charge Trapping at the Graphene/Ferroelectric Interface

M.H. Yusuf, B. Nielsen, M. Dawber, and X. Du

Nanoletters 14, 5437 (2014)

The interface between graphene and the ferroelectric superlattice PbTiO3/SrTiO3 (PTO/STO) is studied. Tuning the transition temperature through the PTO/STO volume fraction minimizes the adorbates at the graphene/ferroelectric interface, allowing robust ferroelectric hysteresis to be demonstrated. “Intrinsic” charge traps from the ferroelectric surface defects can adversely affect the graphene channel hysteresis and can be controlled by careful sample processing, enabling systematic study of the charge trapping mechanism.

This paper is also available on the arXiv at:

In-situ x-ray diffraction study of the growth of highly strained epitaxial BaTiO3 thin films

J. Sinsheimer, S. J. Callori, B. Ziegler, B. Bein, P. V. Chinta, A. Ashrafi, R. L. Headrick and M. Dawber

Appl. Phys. Lett. 103, 242904 (2013)

In-situ synchrotron x-ray diffraction was performed during the growth of BaTiO3 thin films on SrTiO3 substrates using both off-axis RF magnetron sputtering and pulsed laser deposition techniques. It was found that the films were ferroelectric during the growth process, and the presence or absence of a bottom SrRuO3 electrode played an important role in the growth of the films. Pulsed laser deposited films on SrRuO3 displayed an anomalously high tetragonality and unit volume, which may be connected to the previously predicted negative pressure phase of BaTiO3.

Current Research Projects

Research in our lab is currently supported by the C2QA and a seed grant from Stony Brook OVPR.

Past Research Projects

These completed projects were funded by the National Science Foundation:

DMR-1506930 -- Real-time X-ray Scattering Studies of Oxide Epitaxial Growth
DMR-1334867 -- Collaborative Research: DMREF: High-Throughput Mapping of Functional Dielectric/Metallic Heterostructures
DMR-1055413 -- CAREER: Engineered Ferroic Superlattices for Science, Technology and Education
DMR-1105202 -- Hybrid Graphene-Ferroelectric Devices
DMR-0959486 -- MRI-R2: Development of a System for Real-Time X-Ray Scattering Analysis of Complex Oxide Thin Film Growth.