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
Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics
23.03.2017 | North Carolina State University
TU Graz researchers show that enzyme function inhibits battery ageing
21.03.2017 | Technische Universität Graz
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...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences