The resulting structures, which are 100 to 200 nanometers in outer diameter with thickness ranging from 5 to 25 nanometers, show a piezoelectric response comparable to that of PZT thin films of much larger dimensions. The technique could ultimately lead to production of actively-tunable photonic and phononic crystals, terahertz emitters, energy harvesters, micromotors, micropumps and nanoelectromechanical sensors, actuators and transducers – all made from the PZT material.
Using a novel characterization technique developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the researchers for the first time made high-accuracy in-situ measurements of the nanoscale piezoelectric properties of the structures.
“We are using a new nano-manufacturing method for creating three-dimensional nanostructures with high aspect ratios in ferroelectric materials that have attractive piezoelectric properties,” said Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “We also leveraged a new characterization method available through Oak Ridge to study the piezoelectric response of these nanostructures on the substrate where they were produced.”
The research was published online on Jan. 26, 2012, and is scheduled for publication in the print edition (Vol. 24, Issue 9) of the journal Advanced Materials. The research was supported by Georgia Tech new faculty startup funds.
Ferroelectric materials at the nanometer scale are promising for a wide range of applications, but processing them into useful devices has proven challenging – despite success at producing such devices at the micrometer scale. Top-down manufacturing techniques, such as focused ion beam milling, allow accurate definition of devices at the nanometer scale, but the process can induce surface damage that degrades the ferroelectric and piezoelectric properties that make the material interesting.
Until now, bottom-up fabrication techniques have been unable to produce structures with both high aspect ratios and precise control over location. The technique reported by the Georgia Tech researchers allows production of nanotubes made from PZT (PbZr0.52Ti0.48O3) with aspect ratios of up to 5 to 1.
“This technique gives us a degree of control over the three-dimensional process that we’ve not had before,” said Bassiri-Gharb. “When we did the characterization, we saw a size effect that until now had been observed only in thin films of this material at much larger size scales.”
The ferroelectric nanotubes are especially interesting because their properties – including size, shape, optical responses and dielectric characteristics – can be controlled by external forces even after they are fabricated.
“These are truly smart materials, which means they respond to external stimuli such as applied electric fields, thermal fields or stress fields,” said Bassiri-Gharb. “You can tune them to behave differently. Devices made from these materials could be fine tuned to respond to a different wavelength or to emit at a different wavelength during operation.”
For example, the piezoelectric effect could permit fabrication of “nano-muscle” tubes that would act as tiny pumps when an electric field is applied to them. The fields could also be used to tune the properties of photonic crystals, or to create structures whose size can be altered slightly to absorb electromagnetic energy of different wavelengths.
In fabricating the nanotubes, Bassiri-Gharb and graduate student Ashley Bernal (currently an assistant professor at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) began with a silicon substrate and spin-coated a negative electron-beam resist material onto it. A template was created using electron-beam lithography, and a thin layer of aluminum oxide was added on top of that using atomic layer deposition.
Next, the template was immersed under vacuum into an ultrasound bath containing a chemical precursor solution for PZT. The structures were pyrolyzed at 300 degrees Celsius, then annealed in a two-step heat treating process at 600 and 800 degrees Celsius to crystallize the material and decompose the polymer substrate. The process produced free-standing PZT nanotubes connected by a thin layer of the original aluminum oxide. Increasing the amount of chemical infiltration allows production of solid nanorods or nanowires instead of hollow nanotubes.
Though the researchers used electron beam lithography to create the template on which the structures were grown, in principle, many other chemical, optical or mechanical patterning techniques could be used for create the templates, Bassiri-Gharb noted.
In studies done in collaboration with researchers Sergei Kalinin and Alexander Tselev of the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the devices produced by the soft template process were analyzed with band-excitation piezoresponse force microscopy (BPFM). The technique allowed researchers to isolate properties of the AFM tip from those of the PZT sample, allowing analysis in sufficient detail to detect the size-scale piezoelectric effects.
“One of our most important observations is that these piezoelectric nanomaterials allow us to generate a factor of four to six increase in the extrinsic piezoelectric response compared to the use of thin films,” said Baassiri-Gharb. “This would be a huge advantage in terms of manufacturing because it means we could get the same response from much smaller structures than we would have had to otherwise use.”
The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences is one of the five Department of Energy (DOE) Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale that are supported by the DOE Office of Science. Together, the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit http://science.energy.gov/bes/suf/user-facilities/nanoscale-science-research-centers/.Research News & Publications Office
Writer: John Toon
John Toon | Newswise Science News
Move over, Superman! NIST method sees through concrete to detect early-stage corrosion
27.04.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Control of molecular motion by metal-plated 3-D printed plastic pieces
27.04.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences