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Materials – Interdependent defects

An ORNL-led study discovered that defects (pictured in green, purple and yellow) in strontium titanate interact to influence the material’s overall properties.

August 3, 2016 – Scientists have long known that adding tiny defects into otherwise perfect materials can influence the substance’s electronic or magnetic properties. Now, a new study led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory shows that defects in complex oxides do not act independently, which will change how scientists understand this class of materials. After shining light on strontium titanate samples, the researchers observed changes in conductivity that could only be explained by interactions among the materials’ defects. “These defects actually talk to each other,” said ORNL’s Paul Snijders. “The cascading changes make these defects correlated.” The findings will inform research that seeks to make use of complex oxide materials for next-generation electronic devices or catalysts. The team’s research is published in Scientific Reports.