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Novel Materials Preparation & Processing Methodologies

The growth, control and modification of novel materials in single crystal and polycrystalline form, represent a national core competency that is essential for scientific advancement within and across traditional disciplinary boundaries, and are critical components of the Basic Energy Sciences’ mission. In support of this mission, the Novel Materials Preparation and Processing Methodologies FWP focuses on developing synthesis protocols for energy-relevant materials that contain volatile, reactive or toxic components such as the rare earth metals, Mg-based and RE containing thermoelectric alloys and Fe-As based superconductors.  The objective of Novel Materials is to advance the ability to synthesize and characterize high purity, high quality materials, primarily in single crystal form; to quantify and control processing-structure-property relationships between chemical inhomogeneities and structural defects and  functionality of highly responsive materials; to develop unique capabilities and processing knowledge in the preparation, purification, and fabrication of metallic elements and alloys. Single crystals are often required to achieve scientific understanding of the origin of various phenomena, whether from intrinsic or extrinsic origins, to elucidate its properties as well as to evaluate a material’s full functionality.

This research is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering.

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  • Suppression of the superconducting transition by controlled disorder for different compositions.

    Studying electronic excitations by intentionally creating point-like defects in the crystal lattice has helped distinguish between competing electron pairing states and led to a better understanding of the origins of superconductivity in barium-potassium-iron-arsenide.

  • Researchers have found a trick that could make writing data to a hard disk as much as a thousand times faster. Recording information in today’s magnetic memory and magneto-optical drives uses an external magnetic field and/or a laser that heats up tiny spots, one at a time, to the point where the magnetic field can switch the magnetic ordering, to store single binary digits. The speed of the magnetic switching is limited by how long it takes the laser to heat the spot close to its Curie point and the external field to reverse the magnetic region.

  • NaAs has been discovered as an effective solvent for RFeAsO (R = rare earth) superconducting compounds and enables the growth of sizeable high quality single crystals by the solution method at ambient pressure. Solution growth is a versatile, rapid technique for growth of single crystals. Much like preparing rock candy, the technique relies on having the right solution that dissolves and then precipitates the compound of interest.