A new class of silicon-compatible metal oxides to power electronics


Tuesday, 07 November, 2023

A new class of silicon-compatible metal oxides to power electronics

Research conducted by Flinders University and UNSW Sydney has provided an observation of nanoscale intrinsic ferroelectricity in magnesium-substituted zinc oxide thin films (otherwise known as metal oxide thin films) with simple wurtzite crystal structures. This new class of silicon-compatible metal oxides could facilitate the development of advanced devices including high-density data storage, low-energy electronics, wearable devices and flexible energy harvesting.

Ferroelectric akin to magnets exhibit a corresponding electrical property known as permanent electric polarisation, which stems from electric dipoles featuring equal but oppositely charged ends or poles. The polarisation can be repeatedly altered between two or more equivalent states or directions when subjected to an external electric field. As a result, the switchable polar materials are under active consideration for numerous technological applications including fast nano-electronic computer memory and low-energy electronic devices.

Corresponding author Dr Pankaj Sharma from Flinders University said the research findings offer significant insights into the switchable polarisation in a new class of simple silicon-compatible metal oxides with wurtzite crystal structures. Co-author Jan Seidel said the material system offers “very real and important implications for new technology and translatable research”.

Historically, this technologically important property has been found to exist in complex perovskite oxides that incorporate a range of transition metal cations leading to physical phenomena such as multiferroicity, magnetism or superconductivity. “But, integrating these complex oxides into the semiconductor manufacturing processes has been a significant challenge due to stringent processing requirements related, for instance, to thermal budget and precise control of multiple constituent elements. The present study therefore provides a potential solution,” said first author Haoze Zhang.

The research findings were published in the journal ACS Nano.

Image credit: iStock.com/simonkr

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