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April 12th, 2010

Ferroelectric nanowires and other emerging electronic materials

Published on April 12th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org
Nitride solar cells can be tailored to absorb light across the solar spectrum (above) and paired with silicon photovoltaics (top) to generate more electricity. Credit - (top) W. Walukiewicz, Rose Street Labs Energy; (bottom) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Nitride solar cells can be tailored to absorb light across the solar spectrum and paired with silicon photovoltaics to generate more electricity. Credit – (top) W. Walukiewicz, Rose Street Labs Energy; (bottom) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

According to a news release from the University of Arkansas, researchers have discovered a new phase in ferroelectric nanowires that could be manipulated for electronic devices.

The group, that included collaborators from UA, École Centrale Paris, the University of South Florida the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, used a combination of experiments and computational approaches to discover that potassium niobate nanowires go through several structural phases at different temperatures, including a new phase not seen before.

“We could control the phase with a certain screening parameter,” says UA’s Lydie Louis about the new phase. She says they could alter the direction of polarization within this phase by changing the magnitude of the depolarization field and the size of the nanostructure. She also says such ferroelectric nanowires could make their way into data storage memories and energy harvesting devices.

Speaking of new materials, the March 26 issue of Science (I’m still a little behind on my reading) has a really terrific roundup of new materials for electronic applications. These include stories (several of which we have written about in the past) on:

  • Nitrogen-based semiconductors.
  • Flexible, stretchable semiconductors.
  • Electronic phase-changed transition metal oxides for sensing, signal conversion and nonvolatile memory.
  • Tunnel-FETs and the ferroelectric-gate FETs.

There is also an update on the potential problems created by export cutbacks on rare earth elements by China.

 


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