Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Making new materials with micro-explosions

30.06.2015

Scientists have made exotic new materials by creating laser-induced micro-explosions in silicon, the common computer chip material

Scientists have made exotic new materials by creating laser-induced micro-explosions in silicon, the common computer chip material.


From left are: Professor Jim Williams, Professor Andrei Rode and Associate Professor Jodie Bradbury with the complex electron diffraction patterns.

Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

The new technique could lead to the simple creation and manufacture of superconductors or high-efficiency solar cells and light sensors, said leader of the research, Professor Andrei Rode, from The Australian National University (ANU).

"We've created two entirely new crystal arrangements, or phases, in silicon and seen indications of potentially four more," said Professor Rode, a laser physicist at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE).

"Theory predicts these materials could have very interesting electronic properties, such as an altered band gap, and possibly superconductivity if properly doped"

By focusing lasers onto silicon buried under a clear layer of silicon dioxide, the group have perfected a way to reliably blast tiny cavities in the solid silicon. This creates extremely high pressure around the explosion site and forms the new phases.

The phases have complex structures, which took the team of physicists from ANU and University College London a year to understand.

Using a combination of electron diffraction patterns and structure predictions, the team discovered the new materials have crystal structures that repeat every 12, 16 or 32 atoms respectively, said Professor Jim Williams, from the Electronic Material Engineering group at RSPE.

"The micro-explosions change silicon's simplicity to much more complex structures, which opens up possibility for unusual and unexpected properties," he said.

These complex phases are often unstable, but the small size of the structures means the materials cool very quickly and solidify before they can decay, said Professor Eugene Gamaly, also from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering. The new crystal structures have survived for more than a year now.

"These new discoveries are not an accident, they are guided by a deep understanding of how lasers interact with matter," he said.

Conventional methods for creating materials with high pressure use tiny diamond anvils to poke or squeeze materials. However, the ultra-short laser micro-explosion creates pressures many times higher than the strength of diamond crystal can produce.

The team's new method promises a much cheaper and industrially-friendly method for large scale manufacturing of these exotic materials, says Dr Jodie Bradby, also from ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

"We reliably create thousands of micron-size modified zones in normal silicon within a second," she said.

"The semiconductor industry is a multi-billion dollar operation - even a small change in the position of a few silicon atoms has the potential to have a major impact."

Media Contact

Andrei Rode
andrei.rode@anu.edu.au
61-416-249-653

 @ANUmedia

http://www.anu.edu.au/media 

Andrei Rode | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Barely scratching the surface: A new way to make robust membranes
13.12.2018 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht Topological material switched off and on for the first time
11.12.2018 | ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>