Prof. Beatriz Noheda and Prof. Bart Kooi of the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (ZIAM) have been awarded a NWO Open Competition Domain Science-M grant of EUR 716,000. The grant by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) is for their project ‘Tricolor hafnia-based thin films: enhanced polar materials by construction (TRICOLOR)’. Other partners in the project are Prof. Jorge Íñiguez and Dr. Sebastjan Glinsek of the University of Luxembourg / Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology.
In total, seventeen grants were awarded by the NWO.
Simple inspection reveals a high symmetry in the ABABAB pattern: every letter is a mirror for the neighbours, whereas in the ABCABC pattern, that symmetry is broken. Present technology allows to do the same with sheets of atoms by creating ‘TRICOLOR superlattices’ in which three-types of compounds are stacked in alternating fashion, giving rise to asymmetric (polar) materials by construction. Since this method is independent of the specific chemistry of the material, it allows the researchers to exploit environmentally-friendly compounds. In particular, the team will apply this approach to solve the existing issues with HfO2-based materials, which are among the most promising contenders to improve future microelectronics devices.
M-grants are intended for realizing curiosity-driven, fundamental research of high quality and/or scientific urgency. The M-grant offers researchers the possibility to elaborate creative and risky ideas and to realise scientific innovations that can form the basis for the research themes of the future.
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