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NEWS
Producing New Materials With Crystal-Stacking Process
February 13, 2020

The magnetic, conductive and optical properties of complex oxides make them key to components of next-generation electronics used for data storage, sensing, energy technologies, biomedical devices and many other applications.


To grow layers of single-crystal oxides for electronic components requires neighboring layers to interlock like Lego blocks. A new method throws out that limitation, producing new capabilities for data storage, sensing, energy technologies, biomedical devices and many other applications. Courtesy of Chang-Beom Eom

According to information, stacking ultrathin complex oxide single-crystal layers – those composed of geometrically arranged atoms – allows researchers to create new structures with hybrid properties and multiple functions. Now, using a new platform developed by engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers will be able to make these stacked-crystal materials in virtually unlimited combinations.

The team published details of its advance recently in the journal Nature.

Epitaxy is the process for depositing one material on top of another in an orderly way. The researchers’ new layering method overcomes a major challenge in conventional epitaxy – that each new complex oxide layer must be closely compatible with the atomic structure of the underlying layer. It’s sort of like stacking Lego blocks: The holes on the bottom of one block must align with the raised dots atop the other. If there’s a mismatch, the blocks won’t fit together properly.

“The advantage of the conventional method is that you can grow a perfect single crystal on top of a substrate, but you have a limitation,” says Chang-Beom Eom, a UW-Madison professor of materials science and engineering and physics. “When you grow the next material, your structure has to be the same and your atomic spacing must be similar. That’s a constraint, and beyond that constraint, it doesn’t grow well.”


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