Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


Home > Press > Conducting Ferroelectrics May be Key to New Electronic Memory

Novel properties of ferroelectric materials discovered at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are moving scientists one step closer to realizing a new paradigm of electronic memory storage.

Conducting Ferroelectrics May be Key to New Electronic Memory

Oak Ridge, TN | Posted on April 27th, 2011

A new study led by ORNL's Peter Maksymovych and published in the American Chemical Society's Nano Letters revealed that contrary to previous assumptions, domain walls in ferroelectric materials act as dynamic conductors instead of static ones.

Domain walls, the separation zones only a few atoms wide between opposing states of polarization in ferroelectric materials, are known to be conducting, but the origin of the conductivity has remained unclear.

"Our measurements identified that subtle and microscopically reversible distortions or kinks in the domain wall are at the heart of the dynamic conductivity," Maksymovych said. "The domain wall in its equilibrium state is not a true conductor like a rigid piece of copper wire. When you start to distort it by applying an electric field, it becomes a much better conductor."

Ferroelectrics, a unique class of materials that respond to the application of an electric field by microscopically switching their polarization, are already used in applications including sonar, medical imaging, fuel injectors and many types of sensors.

Now, researchers want to push the boundaries of ferroelectrics by making use of the materials' properties in areas such as memory storage and nanoelectronics. Gaining a detailed understanding of electrical conductance in domain walls is seen as a crucial step toward these next generation applications.

"This study shows for the first time that the dynamics of these defects - the domain walls - are a much richer source of memory functionality," Maksymovych said. "It turns out you can dial in the level of the conductivity in the domain wall, making it a tunable, metastable, dynamic memory element."

The domain wall's tunable nature refers to its delayed response to changes in conductivity, where shutting off an electric field does not produce an immediate drop in conductance. Instead, the domain wall "remembers" the last level of conductance for a given period of time and then relaxes to its original state, a phenomenon known as memristance. This type of behavior is unlike traditional electronics, which rely on silicon transistors that act as on-off switches when electric fields are applied.

"Finding functionality intrinsic to nanoscale systems that can be controlled in a novel way is not a path to compete with silicon, but it suggests a viable alternative to silicon for a new paradigm in electronics," Maksymovych said.

The ORNL-led team focused on bismuth ferrite samples, but researchers expect that the observed properties of domain walls will hold true for similar materials.

"The resulting memristive-like behavior is likely to be general to ferroelectric domain walls in semiconducting ferroelectric and multiferroic materials," said ORNL co-author Sergei Kalinin.

The samples used in the study were provided by the University of California at Berkeley. Other authors are ORNL's Arthur Baddorf, Jan Seidel and Ramamoorthy Ramesh of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley, and Pennsylvania State University's Pingping Wu and Long-Qing Chen.

Part of this work was supported by the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at ORNL. CNMS is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers supported by the DOE Office of Science, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the
largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE's Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

Work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, was supported by DOE's Office of Science and the Semiconductor Research Corporation.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.


For more information, please click here

Morgan McCorkle
ORNL Communications
(865) 574-7308

Copyright © Newswise

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Iran Organizes Nanotechnology Educational Workshop in China October 7th, 2015

8th Int'l Iran Nano 2015 Festival Kicks Off Work October 7th, 2015

Latest Hygienic Products Presented in Iran Nano 2015 October 7th, 2015

Discovery about new battery overturns decades of false assumptions October 7th, 2015


Research improves efficiency from larger perovskite solar cells October 6th, 2015

ORNL researchers find 'greener' way to assemble materials for solar applications October 5th, 2015

A micro-supercapacitor with unmatched energy storage performance September 30th, 2015

Kerstin Kleese van Dam Named Director of Brookhaven Lab's Computational Science Initiative September 26th, 2015


Global Engineering Firm DPS to Establish U.S. Advanced Technology Group Headquarters at SUNY Poly CNSE and Create 56 New Jobs Under STARTUP-NY Initiative October 6th, 2015

Big range of behaviors for tiny graphene pores: Like biological channels, graphene pores are selective for certain types of ions October 6th, 2015

Research improves efficiency from larger perovskite solar cells October 6th, 2015

Graphene teams up with two-dimensional crystals for faster data communications October 5th, 2015

Memory Technology

Horizontal magnetic tunneling in a field-effect device integrated on Silicon October 3rd, 2015

New Processes in Modern ReRAM Memory Cells Decoded October 1st, 2015

Frustrated magnets point towards new memory September 25th, 2015

Permanent data storage with light: Researchers develop the first non-volatile all-optical chip memory based on phase change materials -- publication in Nature Photonics September 23rd, 2015


Modification of Nanofiltration Membranes in Water Purification Process October 7th, 2015

Molecular nanoribbons as electronic highways October 6th, 2015

Observing the unobservable: Researchers measure electron orbitals of molecules in 3-D October 6th, 2015

Superconductivity trained to promote magnetization: Russian scientist and her colleagues discovered the superconductivity effect, which will help to create future supercomputers October 6th, 2015


8th Int'l Iran Nano 2015 Festival Kicks Off Work October 7th, 2015

Latest Hygienic Products Presented in Iran Nano 2015 October 7th, 2015

From trees to power: McMaster engineers build better energy storage device October 7th, 2015

Discovery about new battery overturns decades of false assumptions October 7th, 2015

The latest news from around the world, FREE

  Premium Products
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More

Nanotechnology Now Featured Books


The Hunger Project

Car Brands
Buy website traffic