Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energys Argonne National Laboratory and Northern Illinois University have shown that very thin materials can still retain an electric polarization, opening the potential for a wide range of tiny devices.
INTENSE EFFECT — This series of images shows the intensity of ferroelectricity – the ability to retain a switchable electric polarization – over a range of temperatures.
The researchers found that the ferroelectric phase – the ability to hold a switchable electric polarization – is stable for thicknesses as small as 1.2 nanometers, one-billionth of a meter, or a size several hundred thousand times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.
Previous studies had found that, as the material became too thin, it quit being a ferroelectric. These new results, however, suggest that small thicknesses do not pose a fundamental problem to building very small devices based on these materials. The research is published in the June 11 issue of Science magazine.
Catherine Foster | Argonne National Laboratory
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