Charting New Nanomemory

Nov 14, 2006

University of Arkansas physicists seeking to better understand the properties of ferroelectric materials at the nanoscale have discovered previously unknown properties.

Ferroelectric materials have invaded the everyday lives of most people – they populate watches, smart cards, television remotes and medical ultrasound devices. Because of those important properties, scientists want to be able to use these materials at the nanoscale, but researchers know very little about how these materials work.

Two University of Arkansas physicists have created computer simulations of ferroelectric nanodots to better understand the potential properties of these miniscule powerhouses. Their findings, reported in Physical Review Letters, include the discovery of previously unknown phases of the materials.

In 2004, Ivan Naumov, Laurent Bellaiche and Huaxiang Fu -- all physicists at the University of Arkansas -- determined that individual ferroelectric nanodots could form a vortex within the nanodot, where the charges swirl in almost a circular motion. Recently, Sergey Prosandeev, a UA research associate in physics, and UA collaborators revealed that inhomogeneous electric fields can switch the chirality of such a vortex -- which is important for technological applications.

Prosandeev and Bellaiche looked at how changing the nanodot’s temperature, material and medium would influence the ferroelectric properties of the nanodot. Depending on the temperature and materials from which the medium and nanodot are made, they found six different structural phases, of which two are well-known -- the classic ferroelectric and non-polarized states -- while the other four phases have never been seen before. Such new phases, and their inherent properties, may constitute an important step toward designing nanoscale devices with enhanced or original properties, including greater memory capacity.

“There is no terminology here in this area,” Prosandeev said.

The computer simulations that produce these results provide a road map for experimental physicists, Prosandeev said. The simulations help them know what to look for when they perform experiments.

Prosandeev is a research associate and Bellaiche holds the Twenty-First Century Endowed Professor of Nanotechnology and Science Education in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

Source: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Explore further: Solving molybdenum disulfide's 'thin' problem

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Building the next generation of efficient computers

Jan 29, 2015

UConn researcher Bryan Huey has uncovered new information about the kinetic properties of multiferroic materials that could be a key breakthrough for scientists looking to create a new generation of low-energy, ...

Researchers use oxides to flip graphene conductivity

Jan 26, 2015

Graphene, a one-atom thick lattice of carbon atoms, is often touted as a revolutionary material that will take the place of silicon at the heart of electronics. The unmatched speed at which it can move electrons, ...

Recommended for you

Solving molybdenum disulfide's 'thin' problem

Mar 27, 2015

The promising new material molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) has an inherent issue that's steeped in irony. The material's greatest asset—its monolayer thickness—is also its biggest challenge.

Snowflakes become square with a little help from graphene

Mar 25, 2015

The breakthrough findings, reported in the journal Nature, allow better understanding of the counterintuitive behaviour of water at the molecular scale and are important for development of more efficient techno ...

Nanostructure complex materials modeling  

Mar 25, 2015

Materials with chemical, optical, and electronic properties driven by structures measuring billionths of a meter could lead to improved energy technologies—from more efficient solar cells to longer-lasting ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.