The key to the finding, published in Science, involves a method to measure intrinsic conducting properties of ferroelectric materials, which for decades have held tremendous promise but have eluded experimental proof.
Now, however, ORNL Wigner Fellow Peter Maksymovych and co-authors Stephen Jesse, Art Baddorf and Sergei Kalinin at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences believe they may be on a path that will see barriers tumble.
“For years, the challenge has been to develop a nanoscale material that can act as a switch to store binary information,” Maksymovych said. “We are excited by our discovery and the prospect of finally being able to exploit the long-conjectured bi-stable electrical conductivity of ferroelectric materials.
“Harnessing this functionality will ultimately enable smart and ultra-dense memory technology.”
In the paper, the authors have demonstrated for the first time a giant intrinsic electroresistance in conventional ferroelectric films, where flipping of the spontaneous polarization increased conductance by up to 50,000 percent. Ferroelectric materials can retain their electrostatic polarization and are used for piezoactuators, memory devices and RFID (radio-frequency identification) cards.
“It is as if we open a tiny door in the polar surface for electrons to enter,” Maksymovych said. “The size of this door is less than one-millionth of an inch, and it is very likely taking only one-billionth of a second to open.”
As the paper illustrates, the key distinction of ferroelectric memory switches is that they can be tuned through thermodynamic properties of ferroelectrics.
“Among other benefits, we can use the tunability to minimize the power needed for recording and reading information and read-write voltages, a key requirement for any viable memory technology,” Kalinin said.
Numerous previous works have demonstrated defect-mediated memory, but defects cannot easily be predicted, controlled, analyzed or reduced in size, Maksymovych said. Ferroelectric switching, however, surpasses all of these limitations and will offer unprecedented functionality. The authors believe that using phase transitions such as ferroelectric switching to implement memory and computing is the real fundamental distinction of future information technologies.
Making this research possible is a one-of-a-kind instrument that can simultaneously measure conducting and polar properties of oxide materials with nanometer-scale spatial resolution under a controlled vacuum environment. The instrument was developed and built by Baddorf and colleagues at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. The materials used for this study were grown and provided by collaborators at the University of California at Berkeley.
A link to the paper, “Polarization control of electron tunneling into ferroelectric surfaces,” is available here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/324/5933/1421; Vol. 324, 2009, page 1421. This research was funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences within the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for DOE.
The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Together the centers 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 centers are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. For more information about the DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, please visit http://nano.energy.gov.
Further reports about: > Electronic Systems > Ferroelectric switching > Materials Science > Nanophase > Nanoscale Science Research > RFID > Radio-frequency identification > Science TV > electrostatic polarization > ferroelectric materials > interdisciplinary research > nanoscale > vacuum environment
Flexible OLEDs with adjustable colors – new design options for lighting designers
14.09.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
Gazing into the flames of ionic winds
13.09.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.09.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy