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Strain on nanocrystals could yield colossal results
Date:9/19/2009

In finally answering an elusive scientific question, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have shown that the selective placement of strain can alter the electronic phase and its spatial arrangement in correlated electron materials. This unique class of materials is commanding much attention now because they can display properties such as colossal magnetoresistance and high-temperature superconductivity, which are highly coveted by the high-tech industry.

Junqiao Wu, a physicist who holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and the University of California-Berkeley's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, led the study in which it was demonstrated that irregularities in the micro-domain structure of correlated electron materials - a phenomenon known as "phase inhomogeneity" can be generated by external stimuli and could be engineered at the sub-micron scale to achieve desired properties.

"By continuously tuning strain over a wide range in single-crystal vanadium oxide micro- and nano-scale wires, we were able to engineer phase inhomogeneity along the wires," says Wu. "Our results shed light on the origin of phase inhomogeneity in correlated electron materials in general, and open opportunities for designing and controlling phase inhomogeneity of correlated electron materials for future devices."

Wu is the corresponding author of a paper describing this work which was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology and is entitled: "Strain engineering and one-dimensional organization of metal-insulator domains in single crystal VO2 beams." Co-authoring the paper with Wu were Jinbo Cao, Elif Ertekin, Varadharajan Srinivasan, Wen Fan, Simon Huang, Haimei Zheng, Joanne Yim, Devesh Khanal, Frank Ogletree and Jeffrey Grossman.

Whereas in conventional materials, the motion of one electron is relatively independent of
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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