Two scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a method to control the buildup of hydrogen fluoride gas during the growth of precision crystals needed for applications such as superconductors, optical devices, and microelectronics.
The invention — by Vyacheslav Solovyov and Harold Wiesmann and recently awarded U.S. Patent number 7,622,426 — could lead to more efficient production and improved performance of these materials.
Materials with highly ordered crystalline atomic structures have enormous potential for energy-saving devices such as superconductors, which carry current with no energy loss, and high-speed electronics. Such crystals are typically grown from precursors deposited on substrates — for example: tapes, wires, or wafers, such as those used in the production of computer chips.
Adding fluorine to the precursors enhances the transfer of crystalline order from the substrate to the growing material. But fluorine also presents a problem because it leads to the buildup of hydrogen fluoride gas. Hydrogen fluoride slows down the reaction that converts the precursor to the desired material, sometimes even stopping crystal growth in its tracks.
“You might think you could just vent the accumulating gas, but such methods have proven impractical,” said Wiesmann. For one thing, you’d have to remove the gas uniformly, to avoid variations in pressure that might affect crystal growth, which becomes more difficult over larger areas. Also, other gases necessary to crystal growth, such as oxygen and water vapor, get extracted along with the hydrogen fluoride, and re-injecting these gases introduces more pressure problems.
“We’ve developed an improved method for removing hydrogen fluoride, based on absorption, that enhances the production of high-quality crystalline products.” Wiesmann said.
The new method incorporates a solid material capable of absorbing hydrogen fluoride (HF) gas inside the reaction chamber. The solid material can be attached to the inner surface of the reaction chamber or free standing, as long as it is made to conform to the shape of the precursor at a uniform distance. This allows uniform extraction of HF across large areas, thereby yielding crystalline end products that are uniform and homogeneous regardless of the shape of the precursor material or the area it occupies inside the reaction chamber.
A wide range of materials from alkaline earth oxides to materials containing calcium, sodium, or even activated carbon can be used as HF absorbers. The HF absorber material could be sprayed, painted, or otherwise deposited onto an inert support such as quartz or various oxides to attach it to the reaction chamber. Or it could be made from a powder and pressed into a form that conforms to the shape of the growing crystals.
“Because these materials selectively absorb HF gas, water vapor, oxygen, and other gases that may be present and necessary for the conversion of the precursor material to finished crystals remain in the reaction vessel, undisturbed,” Solovyov said.
Solovyov and Wiesmann demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach when growing crystals of a common yttrium-barium-copper-oxide (YBCO) superconductor. In these experiments, YBCO crystals grew at a faster rate in the presence of a barium-oxide HF absorber when compared to conventional methods of crystal growth. The method also preserves the uniformity of the crystal growth environment so that superconducting properties do not vary along the length of the film.
This specific reaction serves as only one example, and the patent applies to the many possible modifications and variations in the materials used and produced.
The new method is available for licensing and commercial development. For further information about the patent and commerical opportunities, contact Brookhaven Lab licensing specialist Kimberley Elcess, firstname.lastname@example.org, 631 344-4151.
The research was funded by DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
Karen McNulty Walsh | EurekAlert!
Organic-inorganic heterostructures with programmable electronic properties
30.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics
23.03.2017 | North Carolina State University
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering