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|Spatial maps of non-linearity for different film thicknesses (thicknesses shown across top). The onset of nonlinearity with thickness proceeds through formation and merger of clearly visible micron-scale clusters with bulk nonlinearity value, as opposed to gradual increase of average nonlinearity.|
The revolutionary new Band Excitation (BE) technique, co-developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Asylum Research, has provided clues to the origins of unique properties of materials including spin and cluster glasses, phase-separated oxides, polycrystalline ferroelectrics, and ferromagnets, that are rooted in their highly disordered structures.
These behaviors influence the scaling properties of the materials, including the thickness of thin films at which improved properties manifest. So-called "Rayleigh behaviors" have a direct bearing on the properties of nanoscale materials and, eventually, the uniformity of nanoscale devices. The new observations, which were made possible by advances in scanning probe microscopy (SPM) at ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and Asylum Research, may result in the rethinking of 100-year-old theories behind the "quanta of nonlinearity" and properties of heterogeneous materials. This work is funded by the Department of Energy's Basic Energy Sciences CNMS user program. The principal investigators for this ground-breaking work are Stephen Jesse and Sergei Kalinin of ORNL, and Susan Trolier-McKinstry from Penn State. The findings were recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), April 20, 2010 entitled "Collective dynamics underpins Rayleigh behavior in disordered polycrystalline ferroelectrics."
Sergei Kalinin of ORNL commented, "The nonlinear responses are a ubiquitous aspect of disordered materials that is directly linked to their unique functional properties. Our studies illustrate that the emergence of the nonlinear behavior is associated with large-scale collective responses, providing new clues to century-old problems."
Added Roger Proksch, President of Asylum Research, "The amazing aspect of BE measurements is that the local nonlinearity is measured quantitatively with less than 10% absolute error in volumes millions of times smaller than those addressable by macroscopic measurements. This is highly unusual for SPM."
About Asylum Research
Asylum Research is the technology leader for scanning probe and atomic force microscopes (SPM/AFM) for both materials and bioscience applications. Founded in 1999, we are a company dedicated to innovative instrumentation for nanoscience and nanotechnology, with over 250 years combined AFM/SPM experience from our scientists, engineers and software developers. Our instruments are used for a variety of nanoscience applications in material science, physics, polymers, chemistry, biomaterials, and bioscience, including single molecule mechanical experiments on DNA, protein unfolding and polymer elasticity, as well as force measurements for biomaterials, chemical sensing, polymers, colloidal forces, adhesion, and more. Asylums product line offers imaging and measurement capabilities for a wide range of samples, including advanced techniques such as electrical characterization (CAFM, KFM, EFM), high voltage piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM), magnetic force microscopy (MFM) with our unique variable field module, quantitative nanoindenting, and a wide range of environmental accessories and application-ready modules.
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