Careers @
IBM Research – Zurich

Let’s OUTTHINK together

Master’s student position

Phase Change Devices for Neural Networks

Ref. 2019-36

Project description

Phase Change DeviceThe human brain is more efficient than modern computers in dealing with complex, unstructured tasks such as image recognition. Recently, bio- and neuro-inspired (neuromorphic) algorithms have become a key element for the future of computation, but come with the price of consuming a large amount of resources when run on standard computer architectures. Novel architectures that work as hardware-accelerators for neural network algorithms are being extensively researched.

At IBM Research – Zurich, we are working on implementing an oscillatory neural network based on phase-change material. We recently developed a concept for a system for image recognition with the use of scaled VO2-based coupled oscillators. Technologically, these may be implemented in a two terminal cross-bar structure allowing for very dense integration. However, to scale the network to large dimensions, significant material improvements are necessary.

Scope of this Master’s thesis

The aim of this thesis will be to optimize the processing of VO2 film to obtain fast, ultra-scaled VO2 oscillators. Specific tasks will include:

  • Fabrication of VO2 thin film in the state-of-the art IBM cleanroom at the Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center;
  • Characterization of the film property with Raman spectroscopy, AFM, SEM and electrical characterization;
  • Optimization of device design;
  • Testing of the devices for neuromorphic computing applications.


Please note that we are proposing a non-funded Master’s thesis, which should be part of the official university program, not an internship or general employment. Students should preferably already be enrolled at a Swiss university.

Your profile

We are seeking a candidate with a strong interest in material science and electronic devices. Prior expertise in fabrication techniques and material characterization is a plus. For this project you should be available for a period of at least six months starting in winter 2019/2020.

About IBM Research – Zurich

Scientists at IBM Research – Zurich have made major contributions to the advancement of knowledge in solid-state physics and development of state-of-the-art nanotechnology. Today’s research focuses on different areas of technological significance, such as new paradigm for computing, CMOS and post-CMOS, microfabrication, packaging and life sciences.

With more than 100 students and young researchers (Master’s, PhDs, post-docs), our laboratory offers a dynamic and international environment for excellent science and provides a unique opportunity to extend your research skills. The laboratory equipment for the project defined in this Master’s thesis is state-of-the-art, and will allow the successful candidate to perform novel and exciting experiments.


IBM is committed to diversity at the workplace. With us you will find an open, multicultural environment. Excellent flexible working arrangements enable both women and men to strike the desired balance between their professional development and their personal lives.

How to apply

If you are interested in the project or would like to know more about our work, please contact
, Research Staff Member, Neuromorphic Devices & Systems.