Review Article

Picoscale materials engineering

  • Nature Reviews Materials 2, Article number: 17060 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/natrevmats.2017.60
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Abstract

The way in which atoms bond to form a material — in particular the pattern of bond lengths and angles — is the fundamental determinant of the properties of the resulting material. Functional materials often derive their properties from alterable or reversible bond distortions at the picometre length scale that modify the electronic configuration. By considering several examples, we discuss how picoscale bond perturbations can be used to achieve specific materials properties. In particular, we examine the orbital engineering demonstrated in nickelates, the functional properties obtained in perovskite superlattices and the influence of interfacial effects on the high superconductive transition temperature of iron selenide. Moreover, we emphasize the relation between band topology and picoscale distortions in transition metal dichalcogenides and the effect of the excitation of lattice modes on materials properties. We use these examples to highlight how the combination of first-principles methods, materials growth techniques that allow control of the composition of individual atomic layers and state-of-the-art methods to characterize or dynamically excite picoscale bond distortions provides a powerful approach for discovering rules and concepts for picoscale materials engineering.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF; Award Nos DMR-1309868 and MRSEC DMR-1119826) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Applied Physics, Yale University.

    • Sohrab Ismail-Beigi
    • , Frederick J. Walker
    •  & Charles H. Ahn
  2. Department of Physics, Yale University.

    • Sohrab Ismail-Beigi
    •  & Charles H. Ahn
  3. Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA.

    • Sohrab Ismail-Beigi
    •  & Charles H. Ahn
  4. Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Hamburg 22761, Germany.

    • Ankit S. Disa
  5. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.

    • Karin M. Rabe

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Sohrab Ismail-Beigi or Charles H. Ahn.