Patented technology will improve production of many electronic and computer components – sciencedaily
Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities College of Science and Engineering have invented cheaper, safer, and simpler technology that will allow a “stubborn” group of metals and metal oxides to be turned into thin films used in many electronic, computer and other components. applications.
The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS.
Researchers have worked with the University of Minnesota’s Technology Commercialization Office to patent the technology and have already garnered industry interest.
Many metals and their compounds must be made into thin films before they can be used in technological products such as electronics, displays, fuel cells or catalytic applications. However, “stubborn” metals, which include elements like platinum, iridium, ruthenium, and tungsten, among others, are very difficult to convert to thin films because they require extremely high temperatures (typically over 2000 degrees Celsius) to evaporate.
Typically, scientists synthesize these metallic films using techniques such as sputtering and electron beam evaporation. The latter consists of melting and evaporating the metals at high temperature and leaving a film to form above the platelets. But, this conventional method is very expensive, consumes a lot of energy and can also be dangerous due to the high voltage used.
Today, researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a way to evaporate these metals at significantly lower temperatures, less than 200 degrees Celsius instead of several thousand. By designing and adding organic ligands – combinations of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms – to metals, researchers were able to dramatically increase the vapor pressures of materials, making them easier to evaporate at temperatures lower. Not only is their new technique simpler, but it also makes better quality materials that are easily upgradeable.
“The ability to fabricate new materials with ease and control is essential for moving into a new era of energy saving,” said Bharat Jalan, study lead author, materials synthesis expert and associate professor and holder of the Shell Chair in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota (CEMS). “There is already a historic link between innovation in synthetic science and the development of new technologies. Millions of dollars are spent on manufacturing materials for various applications. Now we have come up with simpler technology. and cheaper which allows for better materials with atomic precision. “
These metals are used to make a myriad of products, from semiconductors for computer applications to display technology. Platinum, for example, is also an excellent catalyst for energy conversion and storage, and its use in spintronic devices is currently being considered.
“Reducing the cost and complexity of metal deposition while allowing the deposition of more complex materials like oxides will play an important role in industrial and research efforts,” said William Nunn, graduate student in chemical engineering and materials science from the University of Minnesota, the first author of the article and recipient of the department’s Robert V. Mattern Fellowship. “Now that the deposition of these metals like platinum will become easier, we hope to see a resurgence of interest in more complex materials that contain these stubborn metals.”
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