(2020) Solid-phase Epitaxy Produces Magnetic Oxides with Novel Magnetic Properties

The Wisconsin MRSEC has created thin films of a fascinating magnetic material, Pr2Ir2O7, in which the magnetic moments are frustrated: No matter how they are arranged, some of the moments are always fighting to change their direction, like two bar magnets with their north poles shoved together. Frustration creates a rich landscape for discovery and manipulation of new magnetic effects and of electronic phenomena linked to magnetism.

(2020) In Situ Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation for Challenging Problems in Oxide Crystallization

Researchers at the Wisconsin MRSEC have developed a new instrument using very bright synchrotron x-ray beams to watch nanoscale crystals as they grow. The system has a unique design that allows the crystals to grow in vacuum while keeping the x-ray lenses and the x-ray beam in air but bringing them very close to the crystal. Wisconsin MRSEC researchers are using this new instrument to learn about solid phase epitaxy, a process based on the growth of ordered crystals from a disordered amorphous solid, which is capable of creating new materials for applications in electronics, optics, sensors, and quantum information.

(2019) New Precursors and Growth Processes for Complex Oxide Electronic Materials

Oxide compounds with multiple metal atoms are called complex oxides because they can have many chemical states, crystal structures, and a wide range of useful properties. Wisconsin MRSEC researchers have developed a new way to create crystals of an important series of oxides for quantum electronics, involving the lanthanide row of elements on the periodic table. The MRSEC team deposited lanthanide oxide films using a method called atomic layer deposition, using chemical precursors they developed. The resulting films are amorphous, with a disordered atomic structure, but heating them in contact with the surface of a substrate widely employed in oxide research transforms them into crystals templated by the substrate. This work required interdisciplinary collaboration among chemists, chemical engineers, and materials scientists, brought together by the MRSEC.

(2019) Nanoscale Control of Complex Oxide Crystallization

Small (nanometer-sized) crystals of multi-component, complex metal oxides have useful properties for applications in electronics, optics, sensors, and mechanical actuators. In order to realize this potential, engineers need to be able to put tiny crystals exactly where they are needed and to control the orientation of the crystal’s lattice. Researchers at the Wisconsin MRSEC and Argonne National Lab have studied a new way to place tiny oxide crystals through controlled, seeded crystallization of disordered, amorphous thin films. They have demonstrated controlled crystal growth at desired locations either from seeds of the same material (homoepitaxy) or seeds of a different material (heteroepitaxy). This work is an important step toward general control of oxide crystals and new applications.

(2018) IRG2: Lanthanide Atomic-Layer Deposition: Towards New Oxide Compositions and Geometries

Creating thin films using novel synthesis techniques is a key step in expanding the functionality of metal oxide materials. It is particularly important to create these oxides in new geometrical forms and with new compositions. Researchers and the Wisconsin MRSEC have developed ways to create new oxides by first synthesizing them in the amorphous form and subsequently crystallizing the deposited material, a process known as solid-phase epitaxy (SPE).

(2018) IRG2: Lateral Solid-Phase Epitaxy of a Perovskite Complex Oxide

Three-dimensional metal oxide crystals with Madison MRSEC complex structures or compositions are challenging to prepare because it is difficult to
control nanoscale phenomena underlying crystal nucleation and growth. Researchers at the Wisconsin MRSEC have now made important steps in establishing this control in so-called “perovskite” complex oxide crystals, a class of materials with useful optical and electronic properties.