Molly Brown

Investigation of Point Defects in AlN-based thin films


Margaret “Molly” Brown started her Materials Science Ph.D. in the fall of 2023. Before joining Mines, Molly completed her undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Dayton in Ohio. As an undergrad, she worked for the Air Force Research Lab at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in the materials directorate. There, she collaborated with physicists, material scientists, and engineers to explore the quantum properties of thin film nanoplatelet topological insulators.

While it is well known that oxygen impurities in nitrides have a substantial impact on the properties and electronic structure of wide bandgap nitrides, there are relatively few experimental studies on the mechanisms of oxygen point defects in AlN-based alloys such as the commercially relevant piezoelectric and recently discovered ferroelectric Al1-xScxN. To complement computational studies of point defects in Al1-xScxN and related alloys, experimental work will be directed to answer the following: What is the nature of these and other related defects and how do they impact the structural and electromechanical properties of AlN-based alloys? Uncovering these answers will support current engineering efforts to implement AlN-based alloys in a variety of applications ranging from optoelectronics and acoustic resonators to in-memory computing and high-density data storage.