Markets for energy storage that go beyond portable electronics have emerged rapidly this decade, including powering electric vehicles and "leveling the grid" fed by renewable sources such as solar energy, which are intermittent in supply. These new demands require a significant step-up in energy density that will probably not be met by Li-ion batteries; estimates suggest they are starting to approach their theoretical limits. But in the world of "beyond Li-ion," the options are limited. One of the most hopeful is the Li-S battery, for which greater energy storage can potentially be realized through phase-transformation chemistry using elemental sulfur as a positive electrode material, which converts to lithium sulfide. These future generation systems offer up to a five-fold increased specific energy and greatly reduced cost factors, but commercialization has been hindered owing to key challenges. Efforts over the last two years to better manipulate the cell chemistry and overcome these challenges are presented.
Using epitaxy and the misfit strain imposed by an underlying substrate, it is possible to elastically strain oxide thin films to percent levels-far beyond where they would crack in bulk. Under such strains, the properties of oxides can be dramatically altered. In this article, we review the use of elastic strain to enhance ferroics, materials containing domains that can be moved through the application of an electric field (ferroelectric), a magnetic field (ferromagnetic), or stress (ferroelastic). We describe examples of transmuting oxides that are neither ferroelectric nor ferromagnetic in their unstrained state into ferroelectrics, ferromagnets, or materials that are both at the same time (multiferroics). Elastic strain can also be used to enhance the properties of known ferroic oxides or to create new tunable microwave dielectrics with performance that rivals that of existing materials. Results show that for thin films of ferroic oxides, elastic strain is a viable alternative to the traditional method of chemical substitution to lower the energy of a desired ground state relative to that of competing ground states to create materials with superior properties.
Phase change memory (PCM) is an emerging technology that combines the unique properties of phase change materials with the potential for novel memory devices, which can help lead to new computer architectures. Phase change materials store information in their amorphous and crystalline phases, which can be reversibly switched by the application of an external voltage. This article describes the advantages and challenges of PCM. The physical properties of phase change materials that enable data storage are described, and our current knowledge of the phase change processes is summarized. Various designs of PCM devices with their respective advantages and integration challenges are presented. The scaling limits of PCM are addressed, and its performance is compared to competing existing and emerging memory technologies. Finally, potential new applications of phase change devices such as neuromorphic computing and phase change logic are outlined.
The high specific capacity, reactivity, and abundance of magnesium in the earth's crust and the relatively good safety features of Mg metal, despite its being a reactive metal, drive intensive efforts to develop rechargeable Mg batteries as a follow-up to the success of Li-ion battery technology. However, Mg anodes cannot function in usual non-aqueous electrolyte solutions. Consequently, it is important to develop unique, complex solutions for reversible Mg metal anodes. Also, finding relevant cathode materials that can reversibly insert bivalent Mg ions is a great challenge, In this article, we review the efforts and success in the development of several families of electrolyte solutions for secondary Mg batteries, in which Mg anodes behave fully reversibly, but also exhibit the necessary wide electrochemical window. We also review attempts to develop positive electrodes for rechargeable Mg batteries. The first generation of secondary Mg batteries has already been demonstrated, but their specific energy density remains relatively low. The challenge now is to develop novel Mg battery prototypes that possess high energy density.
This issue contains assessments of battery performance involving complex, interrelated physical and chemical processes between electrode materials and electrolytes. Transformational changes in battery technologies are critically needed to enable the effective use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to allow for the expansion of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) to plug-in HEVs and pure-electric vehicles. For these applications, batteries must store more energy per unit volume and weight, and they must be capable of undergoing many thousands of charge-discharge cycles. The articles in this theme issue present details of several growing interest areas, including high-energy cathode and anode materials for rechargeable Li-ion batteries and challenges of Li metal as an anode material for Li batteries. They also address the recent progress in systems beyond Li ion, including Li-S and Li-air batteries, which represent possible next-generation batteries for electrical vehicles. One article reviews the recent understanding and new strategies and materials for rechargeable Mg batteries. The knowledge presented in these articles is anticipated to catalyze the design of new multifunctional materials that can be tailored to provide the optimal performance required for future electrical energy storage applications.
Conventional silicon transistor scaling is fast approaching its limits. An extension of the logic device roadmap to further improve future performance increases of integrated circuits is required to propel the electronics industry. Attention is turning to III-V compound semiconductors that are well positioned to replace silicon as the base material in logic switching devices. Their outstanding electron transport properties and the possibility to tune heterostructures provide tremendous opportunities to engineer novel nanometer-scale logic transistors. The scaling constraints require an evolution from planar III-V metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) toward transistor channels with a three-dimensional structure, such as nanowire FETs, to achieve future performance needs for complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) nodes beyond 10 nm. Further device innovations are required to increase energy efficiency. This could be addressed by tunnel FETs (TFETs), which rely on interband tunneling and thus require advanced III-V heterostructures for optimized performance. This article describes the challenges and recent progress toward the development of III-V MOSFETs and heterostructure TFETs-from planar to nanowire devices-integrated on a silicon platform to make these technologies suitable for future CMOS applications.
Elastic strain engineering offers a new route to enable high-performance catalysts, electrochemical energy conversion devices, separation membranes and memristors. By applying mechanical stress, the inherent energy landscape of reactions involved in the material can be altered. This is the so-called mechano-chemical coupling. Here we discuss how elastic strain activates reactions on metals and oxides. We also present analogies to strained polymer reactions. A rich set of investigations have been performed on strained metal surfaces over the last 15 years, and the mechanistic reasons behind strain-induced reactivity are explained by an electronic structure model. On the other hand, the potential of strain engineering of oxides for catalytic and energy applications has been largely underexplored. In oxides, mechanical stress couples to reaction and diffusion kinetics by altering the oxygen defect formation enthalpy, migration energy barrier, adsorption energy, dissociation barrier, and charge transfer barrier. A generalization of the principles for stress activated reactions from polymers to metals to oxides is offered, and the prospect of using elastic strain to tune reaction and diffusion kinetics in functional oxides is discussed.
Lithium-air batteries have received extraordinary attention recently owing to their theoretical gravimetric energies being considerably higher than those of Li-ion batteries. There are, however, significant challenges to practical implementation, including low energy efficiency, cycle life, and power capability. These are due primarily to the lack of fundamental understanding of oxygen reduction and evolution reaction kinetics and parasitic reactions between oxygen redox intermediate species and nominally inactive battery components such as carbon in the oxygen electrode and electrolytes. In this article, we discuss recent advances in the mechanistic understanding of oxygen redox reactions in nonaqueous electrolytes and the search for electrolytes and electrode materials that are chemically stable in the oxygen electrode. In addition, methods to protect lithium metal against corrosion by water and dendrite formation in aqueous lithium-air batteries are discussed. Further materials innovations lie at the heart of research and development efforts that are needed to enable the development of lithium-oxygen batteries with enhanced round-trip efficiency and cycle life.
Considering the need for designing better batteries to meet the rapidly growing demand for large-scale energy storage applications, an aspect of primary importance for battery materials is elemental abundance. To achieve sustainable energy development, we must reconsider the feasibility of a sustainable lithium supply, which is essential for lithium(-ion) batteries. Lithium is widely distributed in the Earth, but is not regarded as an abundant element. Therefore, widespread use of large-scale lithium batteries would be inevitably restricted. Sodium (-ion) batteries are thus promising candidates for large-scale applications because sodium is the most advantageous next to lithium considering its atomic weight, standard potential, and natural abundance. Rechargeable sodium-ion batteries consist of two different sodium insertion materials similar to Li-ion batteries. Sodium insertion materials, especially layered oxides, have been studied since the early 1980s, but not extensively for energy storage devices due to the expanded interest in lithium insertion materials in the 1990s. In recent years, materials researchers have again been extensively exploring new sodium insertion materials to enhance battery performance. This article reviews recent advancements and trends in layered sodium transition metal oxides as positive electrode materials for Na-ion batteries.
"Smaller is stronger." Nanostructured materials such as thin films, nanowires, nanoparticles, bulk nanocomposites, and atomic sheets can withstand non-hydrostatic (e.g., tensile or shear) stresses up to a significant fraction of their ideal strength without inelastic relaxation by plasticity or fracture. Large elastic strains, up to similar to 10%, can be generated by epitaxy or by external loading on small-volume or bulk-scale nanomaterials and can be spatially homogeneous or inhomogeneous. This leads to new possibilities for tuning the physical and chemical properties of a material, such as electronic, optical, magnetic, phononic, and catalytic properties, by varying the six-dimensional elastic strain as continuous variables. By controlling the elastic strain field statically or dynamically, a much larger parameter space opens up for optimizing the functional properties of materials, which gives new meaning to Richard Feynman's 1959 statement, "there's plenty of room at the bottom."
Thin-film electrocaloric and pyroelectric sources for electrothermal energy interconversion have recently emerged as viable means for primary and auxiliary solid-state cooling and power generation. Two significant advances have facilitated this development: (1) the formation of high-quality polymeric and ceramic thin films with figures of merit that project system-level performance as a large percentage of Carnot efficiency and (2) the ability of these newer materials to support larger electric fields, thereby permitting operation at higher voltages. This makes the power electronic architectures more favorable for thermal to electric energy interconversion. Current research targets to adequately address commercial device needs including reduction of parasitic losses, increases in mechanical robustness, and the ability to form nearly freestanding elements with thicknesses in the range of 1-10 mu m. This article describes the current state-of-the-art materials, thermodynamic cycles, and device losses and points toward potential lines of research that would lead to substantially better figures of merit for electrothermal energy interconversion.
Because of its fascinating electronic properties, graphene is expected to produce breakthroughs in many areas of nanoelectronics. For spintronics, its key advantage is the expected long spin lifetime, combined with its large electron velocity. In this article, we review recent theoretical and experimental results showing that graphene could be the long-awaited platform for spintronics. A critical parameter for both characterization and devices is the resistance of the contact between the electrodes and the graphene, which must be large enough to prevent quenching of the induced spin polarization but small enough to allow for the detection of this polarization. Spin diffusion lengths in the 100-mu m range, much longer than those in conventional metals and semiconductors, have been observed. This could be a unique advantage for several concepts of spintronic devices, particularly for the implementation of complex architectures or logic circuits in which information is coded by pure spin currents.
The commercialization of lithium-ion batteries has intimately changed our lives and enabled portable electronic devices, which has revolutionized communications, entertainment, medicine, and more. After three decades of commercial development, researchers around the world are now pursuing major advances that would allow this technology to power the next generation of light-duty, electric, and hybrid-electric vehicles. If this goal is to be met, concerted advances in safety and cost, as well as cycle-life and energy densities, must be realized through advances in the properties of the highly correlated, but separate, components of lithium-ion energy-storage systems.
Boron-doped diamond electrodes have attracted increasing interest from researchers due to their outstanding properties for electroanalysis and other electrochemical applications. Material quality and availability have come a long way since the initial reports on the basic electrochemical properties back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In this review, we highlight how diamond electrochemistry has diversified and matured in recent years in terms of the understanding of structure-property relationships and the development of new applications of materials in electroanalytical chemistry.
This article reviews the potential of graphene and related two-dimensional (2D) materials for applications in micro- and nanoelectronics. In addition to graphene, special emphasis is placed on transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). First, we discuss potential solutions for application-scale material growth, in particular chemical vapor deposition. We describe challenges for electrical contacts and dielectric interfaces with 2D materials. The device-related sections in this review first weigh the pros and cons of semi-metal graphene as a field-effect transistor (FET) channel material for logic and radio frequency applications. This is followed by an introduction to alternate graphene switch concepts that utilize the particular properties of the material, namely tunnel FETs, vertical devices, and bilayer pseudospin FETs. The final section is dedicated to semiconducting TMDs and their integration in FETs using the examples of n-type molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and p-type tungsten diselenide (WSe2).
The nanogap is possibly the single most important physical entity in surface-enhanced Raman scattering. Nanogaps between noble metal nanostructures deliver extremely high electric field-enhancement, resulting in an extraordinary amplification of both the excitation rate and the emission rate of Raman active molecules situated in the gap. In some cases, the resulting surface-enhancement in the gap can be so high that Raman spectra from single molecules can be measured. Here, we briefly review some important concepts and experimental results on nanoscale gaps for SERS applications.
Hydrogen termination of diamond lowers its ionization energy, driving electron transfer from the valence band into an adsorbed water layer or to a strong molecular acceptor. This gives rise to p-type surface conductivity with holes confined to a subsurface layer of a few nanometers thickness. The transfer doping mechanism, the electronic behavior of the resulting hole accumulation layer, and the development of robust field-effect transistor (FED devices using this platform are reviewed. An alternative method of modulating the hole carrier density has been developed based upon an electrolyte-gate architecture. The operation of the resulting "solution-gated" FET architecture in two contemporary applications will be described: the charge state control of nitrogen-vacancy centers in diamond and biosensing. Despite 25 years of work in this area, our knowledge of surface conductivity of diamond continues to develop.
Diamond is a unique material that often exhibits extreme properties compared to other materials. Discovered about 30 years ago, the use of hydrogen in plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (CVD) has enabled the growth and coating of diamond in film form on various substrate materials. CVD diamond research has been actively continued subsequently to develop new understanding and approaches for the growth and processing of this fascinating material. Currently, the study and development of diamond films has enabled a wide range of applications based on the combination of unique and extreme properties of diamond and the variety of film properties obtainable through tuning the microstructure, morphology, impurities, and surfaces. This issue of MRS Bulletin introduces the latest research, recent applications, and the challenges ahead for CVD diamond films.
The class of topological insulator materials is one of the frontier topics of condensed matter physics. The great success of this field is due to the conceptual breakthroughs in theories for topological electronic states and is strongly motivated by the rich variety of material realizations, thus making the theories testable, the experiments operable, and the applications possible. First-principles calculations have demonstrated unprecedented predictive power for material selection and design. In this article, we review recent progress in this field with a focus on the role of first-principles calculations. In particular, we introduce the Wilson loop method for the determination of topological invariants and discuss the band inversion mechanism for the selection of topological materials. Recent progress in quantum anomalous Hall insulators, large-gap quantum spin Hall insulators, and correlated topological insulators is also covered.