Growth of new materials is the cornerstone of materials science - a highly inter-disciplinary field of science that touches every aspect of our lives from computers and cell phones to the clothes we wear.
At the same time, the energy crisis has brought the spotlight on synthesis and growth of materials for clean energy technologies, such as solar cells and batteries. However, researchers in these areas do not simply grow materials —they assemble the atoms and molecules that form so-called thin films on various substrates. It is a process that is highly complex, time-consuming and requires significantly high temperatures.
Now a multidisciplinary team at the University of Texas at Austin's Cockrell School of Engineering is using microwave energy to assemble atoms into thin films and grow them directly onto a substrate at significantly low temperatures. Results of the team's research conducted under the supervisions of Professor Arumugam Manthiram of the Texas Materials Institute and the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Ali Yilmaz of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, were published in the 19th December issue of Nature Publications' online, open-access journal Scientific Reports.
"Lowering the temperature at which thin films of relevant materials can be grown is one of the key focus areas of our research," said Reeja Jayan, postdoctoral fellow at UT-Austin and one of the lead authors of the paper. "With our microwave process, we could bring down temperatures to the level that enable us to grow materials on heat-sensitive surfaces, such as plastics, without damaging them."
The conventional methods for growing thin films typically require temperatures over 450 degrees Celsius for several hours and a cumbersome multi-step process. With the new method, thin films can now be grown at temperatures as low as 150 degree Celsius in less than 30 minutes, in a single step process, by using microwaves."With this new method, the process of thin film growth is made simple, wherein a solution containing the atoms of the desired material together with the substrate when exposed to microwaves can result in controlled film growth" said Professor Manthiram who supervised the experimental work. "Applications that could utilize this process include developing thin film batteries and solar cells that could be integrated into various devices like cell phones and tablets."
As part of the research, a computational model of the process was developed by the team, which helps better understand the physics behind the microwave interaction phenomena and provides them with predictive guidelines that can significantly reduce the number of experiments needed for future research. The team at UT-Austin has successfully demonstrated assembly of titanium oxide thin films at low temperatures, and is currently working toward the assembly of thin films in a variety of materials.
Sandra Zaragoza | EurekAlert!
Etching Microstructures with Lasers
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Applying electron beams to 3-D objects
23.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine