Letter | Published:

Ceramic phases with one-dimensional long-range order

Abstract

Solids are generally classified into three categories based on their atomic arrangement: crystalline, quasicrystalline and amorphous1,2,3,4. Here we report MgO and Nd2O3 ceramic phases with special atomic arrangements that should belong to a category of solids different from these three well known categories by combining state-of-the-art atomic-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy and first-principles calculations. The reported solid structure exhibits a one-dimensional (1D) long-range order with a translational periodicity and is composed of structural units that individually have atomic arrangements similar to those observed in coincidence-site lattice configurations present at grain boundaries. Regardless of the insulating nature of the bulk MgO, the bandgap of which is measured to be 7.4 eV, the MgO 1D ordered structure is a wide-bandgap semiconductor with a bandgap of 3.2 eV owing to this special atomic arrangement. The discovery of 1D ordered structures suggests that the structural categories of solids could be more abundant, with physical properties distinct from their regular counterparts.

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Acknowledgements

A part of this study was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Specially Promoted Research (Grant No. JP17H06094) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the ‘Nanotechnology Platform’ (Project No. 12024046) of MEXT. C.C. is grateful for support from the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences, CAS (No. QYZDY-SSW-JSC027), the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (No. 51771200), and the ‘Thousand Youth Talents Plan’ of China. D.Y. acknowledges support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 11332013). The computation in this work was partly done using the facilities of the Supercomputer Center, the Institute for Solid State Physics, the University of Tokyo. We thank M. Kotani of Tohoku University for useful discussions and H. Ohno and S. Ikeda of Tohoku University for providing the present MgO samples. We thank S. Kobayashi of Japan Fine Ceramics Center and J. Wei of University of Tokyo for assisting with the EELS analysis.

Author information

D.Y. performed the calculations. C.C. and M.S. conducted the experiments. C.C. and D.Y. wrote the paper. K.I. supported the calculation and discussed the results. C.C. and Y.I. directed the entire study. All authors read and commented on the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Chunlin Chen or Yuichi Ikuhara.

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Further reading

Fig. 1: Schematic diagrams showing the atomic structure of a 1D ordered structure.
Fig. 2: ABF STEM images showing the MgO 1D ordered structure formed in the triple-junction regions of the MgO grains.
Fig. 3: DFT calculations and STEM-EELS revealing the atomic and electronic structural characteristics of the MgO 1D ordered structure.
Fig. 4: HAADF STEM images showing the 1D ordered structure formed in the Nd2O3 thin film.