Advanced Materials


Chemistry and Physics at Interfaces

Chemical transformations and physical phenomena at gas, liquid and solid interfaces lie at the heart of today’s energy technologies. They underpin ORNL’s research strategies to deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs that will accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy. Understanding, predicting and controlling the structure, transport and reactivity at interfaces will lead to advances in both in fundamental and use-inspired science. These advances will lead to further technologies advances in: catalysis, corrosion, energy storage, geosciences, nanoscience, photovolatics, polymer science, separations, superconductivity, and thermoelectrics. 

By utilizing ORNL’s signature strengths in materials synthesis and characterization, neutron scattering, and theory, modeling and simulation, the key technical challenges and bottlenecks in chemistry and physics at interfaces are being addressed. For example, to gain a better understanding and control over the chemistry and charge transfer at the electrode-electrolyte interface in energy storage devices, well defined interfaces are prepared by precise synthesis of electrode architectures and electrolytes, quasielastic and inelastic neutron scattering, and optical spectroscopy. Nuclear magnetic resonance is used to characterize the structure, dynamics, and reactions at the interfaces; and classic molecular dynamics and ab initio molecular dynamics are used to gain predictive insights into improving the stability and performance of energy storage device. The ability to bring together a multidisciplinary research team to address and solve complex problems is one of the hallmarks of ORNL science and technology.

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1-3 of 3 Results

Phase coexistence enables switching in strained BiFeO3
— Highly strained films of multiferroic BiFeO3 are shown to exhibit a complex and temperature dependent coexistence of multiple phases, with a minority phase being a prerequisite to ferroelectric switching of the majority.

LuFeO3: a new room-temperature multiferroic material
— Atomically resolved scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) image of LuFeO3, a new room-temperature multiferroic. Red dots indicate the “buckling” of the Lu oxide plane, consistent with the polar structure.

Fluctuations in ultrasmall nanocrystals induce white light emission
— Combined scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) observations and density functional theory (DFT) calculations show why nanoparticles, which typically emit monochromatic light at an energy tuned by their size, suddenly are able to individually emit white light. White-light emission from nanoparticles is of importance due to its potential for energy efficient solid state lighting.


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