Thin-film synthesis at ORNL plays a key role in underpinning the design and discovery of novel materials with physical and chemical properties relevant to various energy technologies, such as photovoltaics, battery materials, thermoelectrics, supercapacitors, catalysts, and superconductors. In addition, complex materials offering the strong electronic correlation and striking new electronic and magnetic phenomena are areas of investigation. Particular examples include ferroelectrics, correlated oxides, magnetic materials, multiferroics, and semiconducting oxides.
Various physical and chemical vapor deposition techniques, including pulsed laser deposition, molecular beam epitaxy, atomic layer deposition, sputtering, and e-beam evaporation are employed to deposit thin-film materials ranging from atomic length scale to micrometers. Thanks to state-of-the-art, in-situ characterization and growth monitoring tools, researchers also investigate epitaxial thin films and completely artificial superlattice materials to explore previously unavailable materials phase space region. The main emphasis is on the design of high-quality, thin-film materials with well-defined surfaces and interfaces to control the flow and interaction of energy quanta, such as electron, photon, phonon, spin, and ion, for next-generation energy technologies.
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