A team of researchers from the Wisconsin Materials Research Science and Education Center (MRSEC) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has designed, constructed, and implemented a new, highly specialized piece of research equipment that can be used to visualize the real-time formation and growth of tiny crystals of novel materials. The unique perspective provided by this approach provides access to new ways to discover and develop materials relevant to electronics, optics, and magnetic applications.
Engineers currently lack good substrate materials on which to grow thin films of materials like GaN with few defects. These layers are needed in applications like high-power transistors and solid-state lighting. Available bulk crystals have the wrong crystal structure or the wrong distance between the atoms. The Wisconsin MRSEC has developed a buffer layer material and related synthesis method that promises to alleviate the substrate problem.
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.
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.
Yajin Chen presented her work on the use of solid-phase epitaxy to create epitaxial complex-oxide interfaces that have promising electronic properties at the APS March Meeting 2019 in Boston, MA.
Peng Zuo, a postdoc working in the MRSEC IRG 2, presented his group’s work on the system of PrAlO3/SrTiO3 created by solid phase epitaxy at the International Conference on Crystal Growth and Epitaxy (ICCGE-19) in …
Highlighting her recent work with the MRSEC Interdisciplinary Research Group on Complex Metal Oxides, graduate student, Tesia Janicki, brought home an award for best poster from the 51st Midwest Theoretical Chemistry Conference (MWTCC) in June.
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.
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.
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).