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Proof that a new ability to grow thin films of an important class of materials called complex oxides will, for the first time, make these materials commercially feasible, according to Penn State materials scientists.
Complex oxides are crystals with a composition that typically consists of oxygen and at least two other, different elements. In their crystalline form and depending on the combination of elements, complex oxides display a tremendous range of properties.
Oxides - Materials - Everything - Roman - Engel-Herbert
"Complex oxides are sometimes called functional materials, because they are literally good for everything," says Roman Engel-Herbert, associate professor of materials science and engineering, chemistry and physics, Penn State.
The particular complex oxides his group is targeting are called perovskite oxides. The crystal structure—the arrangement of atoms—of this material contains two positively charged ions that can be substituted by nearly all elements of the periodic table forming positively charged ions. Depending on which type of atoms are substituted, the researchers are able to get whichever properties they are interested in, including magnetism, ferroelectricity, pyro- and piezoelectricity—the ability to sense and respond to heat and to turn electricity into mechanical motion or vice versa, and even superconductivity.
Ability - Materials - Films - Electronics - Sensors
Until now, the ability to utilize these materials as thin films for electronics and sensors has been stymied by either a very slow rate of growth or a lack of stoichiometry control, i.e. keeping the amount of positively charged ions in the crystal in the right proportion. It is even more troublesome that so far no commercially viable integration strategy is found to combine these functional oxides with existing semiconductor technology in a scalable and commercially viable way.
"For industry to take advantage of the dramatic breakthroughs we have witnessed in this field of complex oxide research, we have to somehow integrate these thin films into devices using technologies that are compatible with existing industrial manufacturing processes,"...
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