Sunday, May 4, 2008

Nanotechnology Produces New Electronic Materials

Written by Philip Buonpastore
Friday, 02 May 2008

STONEY BROOK, NY - The nanotechnology of engineering atomic layer interfaces to produce desired properties, called “improper ferroelectricity” reportedly holds promise for a technological revolution that may compare to the development of modern electronics.
According to an article in the April 10th issue of Nature, a new artificial material is has been created that may mark the beginning of a revolution in the development of materials for electronic applications.
The new material, called a superlattice, which has a layered structure composed of alternating atomically thin layers of two different oxides (PbTiO3 and SrTiO3) takes on properties radically different than either of the two materials by themselves. According to the article, these properties are a direct consequence of the artificially layered atomic structure, and the interactions at the atomic level interface between the layers.
As stated in the article, Ferroelectrics are useful functional materials, with applications ranging from non-volatile computer memories, to micro-electromechanical machines or infrared detectors. “Improper ferroelectricity” is a kind of property that occurs only rarely in natural materials, with effects that are typically too small to be useful. This new superlattice material shows improper ferroelectricity (a property in neither of the original oxides) at a magnitude around 100 times greater than any naturally occurring improper ferroelectric, creating options for many more real world applications.
According to on of the material’s researcher, Dr. Matthew Dawber, “Besides the immediate applications that could be generated by this nanomaterial, this discovery opens a completely new field of investigation and the possibility of new functional materials based on…interface engineering on the atomic scale.”
Transition metal oxides are a class of materials that provoke great interest because of the great range of functional properties that they can present (dielectrics, ferroelectrics, piezoelectrics, magnets or superconductors) and the possibilities for integration into numerous devices. The majority of these oxides have a similar structure (referred to as ‘perovskite’) and recently, researchers have developed the ability to build these materials atomic layer by layer, to attempt to produce new materials with exceptional properties.
Fausto Intilla -

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