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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2017-01-10 18:05:49
    • Article ID: 667408

    Not Your Typical “Cut Glass Crystal”

    New fabrication method takes disordered atoms to crystalline structure with a single orientation and unique properties -- a true single crystal.

    • Credit: Image courtesy of Dmytro Savytskii, Brian Knorr, Volkmar Dierolf, and Himanshu Jain.

      Scientists at Lehigh University used a laser to make ordered single crystals on a disordered glass surface. In the colorized scanning electron micrograph, the green color letters represent single crystals embedded in glass shown in blue. The width of the single crystal lines is about five micrometers—about the same width as a single strand of silk from a spider’s web.

    The Science

    To better move energy in solar cells and other devices, scientists need single, ordered crystals. The single crystals can handle tough environments while transmitting energy and light well. However, conventional manufacturing methods don’t work for all materials. Scientists devised the first fabrication method that takes disordered solid glass and turns it into single crystals without melting the glass. The method suppresses multiple small crystals from forming and allows a single crystal seed to grow across the entire line or surface.

    The Impact

    With this new approach, scientists can fabricate single crystals of compositions that are unstable at the high temperatures used in existing production methods. The team’s process is simple and low cost. It enables fabrication of complex shapes with single crystals. These shapes could enable new materials for solar cell devices or other applications such as superconductors, which offer little or no resistance to electricity.

    Summary

    Using a focused laser beam, researchers demonstrated for the first time that single crystals could be written into a solid glass matrix as dots, lines, and two-dimensional patterns by locally heating the glass to the crystallization temperature and avoiding melting. The simple, low-cost approach allows fabrication of single crystals of novel compositions that decompose, melt incongruently, or undergo phase transformation between the crystallization and melting temperatures. Researchers at Lehigh University hypothesized that they could fabricate a single crystal in glass by establishing only one nucleation point and not allowing other nucleation sites to form. They did this by moving a laser at sufficient speeds or by adding a nucleation suppressant to the glass. The researchers chose antimony trisulfide as a test material because it has exceptional pyro-optic properties; however, it has been impractical to obtain from a melt because it loses sulfur when heated in an inert environment or reacts with oxygen in air. By keeping the temperature below the melting temperature, the investigators successfully fabricated single crystal regions on the surface of the glass. The new method could enable a wider range of complex materials for microelectronics used in solar cell devices or other high-technology applications such as superconductors.

    Funding

    The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division; B. Knorr was supported by the National Science Foundation.

    Publications

    D. Savytskii, B. Knorr, V. Dierolf, and H. Jain, “Demonstration of single crystal growth via solid-solid transformation of a glass.” Scientific Reports 6, 23324 (2016). [DOI: 10.1038/srep23324]

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    Summit Helps Predict Molecular Breakups

    Summit Helps Predict Molecular Breakups

    A team used the Summit supercomputer to simulate transition metal systems--such as copper bound to molecules of nitrogen, dihydrogen, or water--and correctly predicted the amount of energy required to break apart dozens of molecular systems, paving the way for a greater understanding of these materials.

    Carbon-loving materials designed to reduce industrial emissions

    Carbon-loving materials designed to reduce industrial emissions

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    Department of Energy awards $3.15 million to Argonne to support collaborations with industry

    Department of Energy awards $3.15 million to Argonne to support collaborations with industry

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $33 million in funding for 82 projects aimed at advancing commercialization of promising energy technologies and strengthening partnerships between DOE's National Laboratories and private-sector companies.

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    Particle Physicist Takes the Lead on Groundbreaking Electron Measurement

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    Six Argonne researchers receive DOE Early Career Research Program awards

    Six Argonne researchers receive DOE Early Career Research Program awards

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    Three Fermilab scientists receive DOE Early Career Research Awards

    Three Fermilab scientists receive DOE Early Career Research Awards

    The Department of Energy's Office of Science has selected three Fermilab scientists to receive the 2020 DOE Early Career Research Award, now in its 11th year. The prestigious award is designed to bolster the nation's scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early years, when many scientists do their most formative work.

    ExOne licenses ORNL method to 3D print components for refined neutron scattering

    ExOne licenses ORNL method to 3D print components for refined neutron scattering

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    Quest, PPPL's annual research magazine, reports breakthroughs and discoveries during the past year

    Quest, PPPL's annual research magazine, reports breakthroughs and discoveries during the past year

    News release announcing online publication of the research magazine Quest.

    Matthew Kunz, Princeton and PPPL astrophysicist, receives prestigious NSF dual-purpose award

    Matthew Kunz, Princeton and PPPL astrophysicist, receives prestigious NSF dual-purpose award

    Profile of recipient of five-year NSF award to study the evolution of astrophysical magnetic fields and establish a summer school to attract women and underrepresented minorities to plasma physics.

    CIO Amber Boehnlein Takes Computing up a Notch

    CIO Amber Boehnlein Takes Computing up a Notch

    Computer scientists, software developers and system administrators are coming together under one roof in the newly established Computational Sciences and Technology Division at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. Amber Boehnlein, Jefferson Lab's chief information officer, has been promoted to associate director for computational sciences and technology, heading up the new division.

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory Welcomes Six New Research Fellows to Innovation Crossroads

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory Welcomes Six New Research Fellows to Innovation Crossroads

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory welcomed six technology innovators to join the fourth cohort of Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast's only entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.


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    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Scientists designed and connected two different artificial cells to each other to produce molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Bone and mollusk shells are composite systems that combine living cells and inorganic components. This allows them to regenerate and change structure while also being very strong and durable. Borrowing from this amazing complexity, researchers have been exploring a new class of materials called engineered living materials (ELMs).

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Researchers developed two new methods to assess and remove error in how scientists measure quantum systems. By reducing quantum "noise" - uncertainty inherent to quantum processes - these new methods improve accuracy and precision.

    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

    Lanthanum strontium manganite (LSMO) is a widely applicable material, from magnetic tunnel junctions to solid oxide fuel cells. However, when it gets thin, its behavior changes for the worse. The reason why was not known. Now, using two theoretical methods, a team determined what happens.

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    How an ion behaves when isolated within an analytical instrument can differ from how it behaves in the environment. Now, Xue-Bin Wang at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory devised a way to bring ions and molecules together in clusters to better discover their properties and predict their behavior.

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Shape affects how the particles fit together and, in turn, the resulting material. For the first time, a team observed the self-assembly of nanoparticles with tetrahedral shapes.

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    This study is the first to confirm dust particles pre-dating the formation of our solar system. Further study of these materials will enable a deeper understanding of the processes that formed and have since altered them.

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Future fusion reactors will require materials that can withstand extreme operating conditions, including being bombarded by high-energy neutrons at high temperatures. Scientists recently irradiated titanium diboride (TiB2) in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) to better understand the effects of fusion neutrons on performance.

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    In breast cancer screening, an imaging technique based on nuclear medicine is currently being used as a successful secondary screening tool alongside mammography to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis. Now, a team is hoping to improve this imaging technique.

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Scientists can use genetic information to measure if microbes in the environment can perform specific ecological roles. Researchers recently analyzed the genomes of over 6,000 microbial species.


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