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Domain walls that conduct electricity
Date:1/29/2009

ty for determining the electronic properties of materials used in electronic devices decreased markedly in the center of the 109-degree and 180-degree domain walls, consistent with the increase in conductivity there. But in nonconducting 71-degree domain walls, the band gap decreased much less.

What strikes Seidel about these results "is the fundamental science. We have found a basic property of ferroelectric materials, and of ferroelectricity itself, that was not known before. Ferroelectrics have been studied for over half a century, but this is the first observation of this type of conduction."

Martin is enthusiastic about the potential applications of their discovery. "Domain walls may be the ultimate nanoscale feature," he says. "They're intrinsic to the material they want to be there. And they're only two nanometers wide! It's like shoving a graphene sheet" a single layer of carbon atoms with remarkable conductive properties "right down into a tough, insulating ceramic."

For Ramesh, the discovery, in an oxide, of domain walls that conduct electricity like a metal is a step along "the path to the Holy Grail of oxide materials, the challenge of creating and controlling metal-insulator transitions at interfaces in a material. It's why DOE is so interested in this kind of research."


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Contact: Paul Preuss
paul_preuss@lbl.gov
510-486-6249
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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