Materials science

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding correlations between molecular structures and macroscopic properties is critical in realising highly efficient organic photovoltaics. Here, the authors conduct a comprehensive study based on four non-fullerene acceptors revealing how the extended conjugation, asymmetric terminals and alkyl chain length can affect device performance.

    • Shuixing Li
    • , Lingling Zhan
    •  & Hongzheng Chen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Silica formation in diatoms is of interest for a range of different subjects from biomimetics to oceanography. Here the authors study the formation of silicified extensions in diatoms and find that unlike cell wall elements, that form in the cytoplasm, the extensions have a different formation mechanism outside the cytoplasm.

    • Boaz Mayzel
    • , Lior Aram
    •  & Assaf Gal
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The identification of catalytically active sites with atomic-scale precision occupies a central place in the theory and practice of heterogeneous catalysis. Here the authors assess the nature of the copper-oxygen bond in a Cu-CHA zeolite and recover the microscopic structure of single-metal sites.

    • Paolo Cleto Bruzzese
    • , Enrico Salvadori
    •  & Mario Chiesa
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The antiferromagnetic topological insulator MnBi2Te4 exhibits Chern and axion insulator phases at low magnetic field; however, its behaviour in high magnetic field has remained unexplored. Here, using transport measurements at high magnetic field, the authors report a zero Hall plateau composed of two counter-propagating edge channels.

    • Chang Liu
    • , Yongchao Wang
    •  & Yayu Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The majority of polar structures emerging naturally in ferroelectrics are topologically trivial. Here, the authors demonstrate reconstruction of topologically trivial strip-like domain architecture into arrays of polar vortex in (PbTiO3)10/(SrTiO3)10 superlattice.

    • Congbing Tan
    • , Yongqi Dong
    •  & Jiangyu Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The detailed understanding of the structural variations during cycling in cathodes for Zn-ion aqueous rechargeable batteries is still limited. Here, the authors utilize atomic-column-resolved scanning transmission electron microscopy to elucidate multiphase evolution during hydrated Zn-Ion insertion in vanadium oxide.

    • Pilgyu Byeon
    • , Youngjae Hong
    •  & Sung-Yoon Chung
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Conventional ultrafine grains can generate high-strength Mg alloys, but non-equilibrium grain boundaries deteriorates their corrosion resistance. Here, the authors present ultrafine grained Mg alloys with dense twins that display high strength and reduced corrosion rate by one order of magnitude.

    • Changjian Yan
    • , Yunchang Xin
    •  & Qing Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Compared to inorganic materials, the magnetoelectric coupling in macromolecules is still hidden. Here, the authors describe machine learning coupled with additive manufacturing to accelerate the discovery of multiferroic macromolecules with a proton-mediated magnetoelectric coupling effect.

    • Yong Hu
    • , Scott Broderick
    •  & Shenqiang Ren
  • Article
    | Open Access

    While water electrolysis offers a renewable means to obtain H2, it is necessary to understand the roles adopted by catalytic components. Here, authors explore a heterostructured MoSe2/perovskite oxide catalyst that shows multidirectional charge transfer to boost electrocatalytic water splitting.

    • Nam Khen Oh
    • , Jihyung Seo
    •  & Hyesung Park
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Polycrystal-inspired architected materials are found to be high strength and damage tolerant. Here, the authors conduct in-depth work to unravel the mechanism responsible for the hardening phenomenon, in particular the role of polygrain-like boundary in the post-yield shear band activities.

    • Chen Liu
    • , Jedsada Lertthanasarn
    •  & Minh-Son Pham
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ferromagnetic systems rarely display a large or non-saturating magnetoresistance, due to the low Fermi velocity of the predominant charge carrier. Here, the authors show that MnBi, a ferromagnet, bucks this trend, showing both large and non-saturating magnetoresistance, and high charge carrier motilities.

    • Yangkun He
    • , Jacob Gayles
    •  & Claudia Felser
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Solar-driven CO2 reduction into value-added chemicals and fuels is attracting worldwide attention. Here, substantially enhanced photocatalytic CO2 reduction activity is achieved via the synergy of surface oxygen vacancies and ferroelectric polarization over Bi3TiNbO9 photocatalyst.

    • Hongjian Yu
    • , Fang Chen
    •  & Yihe Zhang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Despite many reports on nanoparticle-covalent organic frameworks (COF) composites, a universal strategy for the synthesis of monodisperse core-shell structured COF nanocomposites remains challenging. Here, the authors develop a strategy for interfacial growth of highly crystalline COFs on functional nanoparticles with abundant optical, electrical and magnetic properties.

    • Liang Chen
    • , Wenxing Wang
    •  & Xiaomin Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fine tuning of mechanical properties in elastomers is important for application of elastomers in flexible devices and biomedical field. Here, the authors prepare a nacre inspired PDMS-montmorrillonite composite with good mechanical properties and demonstrate crack tracing using aggregation-induced emission luminogens.

    • Jingsong Peng
    • , Antoni P. Tomsia
    •  & Qunfeng Cheng
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Switching of ferrimagnets by current-induced spin-orbit torque is promising for spintronics, due to their high-speed dynamics and small macroscopic magnetization. Switching of perpendicularly magnetized materials, however, requires a bias field for symmetry breaking. Here, Zheng et al demonstrate field-free current-induced switching of perpendicular ferrimagnets, using a compositional gradient-driven Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction.

    • Zhenyi Zheng
    • , Yue Zhang
    •  & Pedram Khalili Amiri
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Wear reduction in diamond-like carbon interacting with ZDDP-additivated oils is essential for current automotive applications. Here, the authors present an atomic-scale study revealing that this can be achieved by tailoring diamond-like carbon’s stiffness, surface nano-topography, and hydrogen content.

    • Valentin R. Salinas Ruiz
    • , Takuya Kuwahara
    •  & Maria-Isabel de Barros Bouchet
  • Article
    | Open Access

    For many polymers, recycling via mechanical processes is not feasible and these materials are destined for landfills or incineration. Here the authors show an open-loop recycling method for superabsorbent polymers that involves decrosslinking via hydrolysis, an optional chain-shortening step via sonication, and functionalizing via Fischer esterification.

    • P. Takunda Chazovachii
    • , Madeline J. Somers
    •  & Anne J. McNeil
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) with large electrically actuated strain can be used in non-magnetic motors, but high stiffness, poor strength and slow response currently limit the application of DEAs. Here, the authors optimize the crosslinking network in a polyacrylate elastomer to enable a DEA with high toughness and actuation strain and use the polyacrylate to build a motor which can be driven under low electric field.

    • Li-Juan Yin
    • , Yu Zhao
    •  & Zhi-Min Dang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Microcavity exciton-polaritons in atomically thin semiconductors are a promising platform for valley manipulation. Here, the authors show valley-selective control of polariton energies in monolayer WS2 using the optical Stark effect, thereby extending coherent valley manipulation to a hybrid light-matter regime

    • Trevor LaMountain
    • , Jovan Nelson
    •  & Nathaniel P. Stern
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Despite advances in the design of thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) emitters for devices, the effect of spin interactions is not well understood. Here, the authors report the role of spin-vibronic coupling in TADF organic emitters using transient electron spin resonance spectroscopy.

    • Bluebell H. Drummond
    • , Naoya Aizawa
    •  & Emrys W. Evans
  • Article
    | Open Access

    For printed electronics to realize its potential as a sustainable ubiquitous technology, eco-friendly solvents that deliver excellent ink performance must be found. Here, the authors report a free online tool that identifies functional green solvents for solution-processed printed electronics.

    • Christian Larsen
    • , Petter Lundberg
    •  & Ludvig Edman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Self-assembling peptides have a range of potential applications but developing self-assembling sequences can be challenging. Here, the authors report on a one-bead one-compound combinatorial library where fluorescence is used to detect the potential for self-assembly and identified candidates are evaluated.

    • Pei-Pei Yang
    • , Yi-Jing Li
    •  & Kit S. Lam
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Electric field induced ion migration is a well-known phenomenon in perovskite, but the consequences are notorious, and thus needs to be prevented. Here, on the other hand, the authors cleverly manipulate this event for realising resistive random-access memory and light-emitting electrochemical cell in one device based on CsPbBr3 quantum dots.

    • Meng-Cheng Yen
    • , Chia-Jung Lee
    •  & Ya-Ju Lee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Spin defects in two-dimensional materials potentially offer unique advantages for quantum sensing in terms of sensitivity and functionality. Here, the authors demonstrate the use of spin defects in hexagonal boron nitride as sensors of magnetic field, temperature and pressure, and show that their performance is comparable or exceeds that of existing platforms.

    • Andreas Gottscholl
    • , Matthias Diez
    •  & Vladimir Dyakonov
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Nuclear spins in diamond are promising for applications in quantum technologies due to their long coherence times. Here, the authors demonstrate a scalable electrical readout of individual intrinsic 14N nuclear spins in diamond, mediated by hyperfine coupling to electron spin of the NV center, as a step towards room-temperature nanoscale diamond quantum devices.

    • Michal Gulka
    • , Daniel Wirtitsch
    •  & Milos Nesladek
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The unique properties of self-healing materials hold great potential in the field of biomedical engineering. Here, the authors designed a series of biodegradable and biocompatible self-healing elastomers with tunable mechanical properties, and apply them to various disease models in vivo, including aortic aneurism, bone fracture and nerve amputation.

    • Chenyu Jiang
    • , Luzhi Zhang
    •  & Xiaofeng Ye
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Surface of colloidal quantum dot is sensitive to water, and the interaction could potentially alter its chemical environments. Here, Shi et al. investigate how the interaction effects the nanostructures and carrier dynamic in CQDs, and subsequently introduce meniscus-guided coating technique to mitigate CQD fusion triggered by water adsorption.

    • Guozheng Shi
    • , Haibin Wang
    •  & Wanli Ma
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ensuring robustness of bound states in the continuum usually relies on precise control of geometrical symmetries, which are quite susceptible to fabrication imperfections. Here, the authors propose to exploit physical symmetries instead, as a way to achieve robust BICs in disordered systems.

    • Qingjia Zhou
    • , Yangyang Fu
    •  & Yadong Xu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Thermoelectric effects are limited to electrons to occur, and disappear at low temperatures due to electronic entropy quenching. Here, the authors report thermoelectric generation caused by nuclear spins down to 100 mK due to nuclear-spin excitation in a magnetically ordered material MnCO3.

    • T. Kikkawa
    • , D. Reitz
    •  & E. Saitoh
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Near-field thermophotovoltaic holds the potential for achieving high-power density and energy conversion efficiency by utilizing evanescent modes of heat transfer, yet the performance still lags behind the far-field counterpart. Here, the authors combine thermally robust planar emitter with InGaAs PV to push the limit of near-field device further.

    • Rohith Mittapally
    • , Byungjun Lee
    •  & Edgar Meyhofer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Advanced screening strategies for the design of high-entropy alloys are highly desirable. Here the authors use the project-oriented design strategy and CALPHAD-based high-throughput calculation tool to rapidly screen promising Al-Cr-Fe-Mn-Ti structural HEAs for high-temperature applications.

    • Rui Feng
    • , Chuan Zhang
    •  & Peter K. Liaw
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Light offers a fast and non-invasive way to generate spin-currents in materials, however, this typically requires special ingredients such as magnetic materials, or circularly polarised light. In this theory work, the authors show how the nonlinear optical effect can generate a spin current, with the only requirement being broken inversion symmetry.

    • Haowei Xu
    • , Hua Wang
    •  & Ju Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Structural and morphological control of crystalline nanoparticles is crucial in heterogeneous catalysis. Applying DFT-assisted solid-state NMR spectroscopy, we determine the surface crystal and electronic structure of Ni2P nanoparticles, unveiling NMR nanocrystallography as an emerging tool in facet-engineered nanocatalysts.

    • Wassilios Papawassiliou
    • , José P. Carvalho
    •  & Andrew J. Pell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Refraction between anisotropic media is still an unexplored phenomenon. Here, the authors investigate the propagation of hyperbolic phonon polaritons traversing α-MoO3 nanoprisms, showing a bending-free refraction effect and sub-diffractional focusing with foci size as small as 1/50 of the light wavelength in free space.

    • J. Duan
    • , G. Álvarez-Pérez
    •  & P. Alonso-González
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The established means of bandgap control in semiconductors are based on chemical, electrical or optical doping. Here, the authors report wide bandgap modulations in monolayer WS2 at room temperature by coupling the 2D semiconductor to a self-assembled plasmonic crystal inducing coherent hot electron doping.

    • Yu-Hui Chen
    • , Ronnie R. Tamming
    •  & Min Qiu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Self-healing property is important for supercapacitors when powering the electronics, but designing devices that possess a universal healing mechanism remains challenging. Here, the authors achieve an optically, electrically, and magnetically-responsive self-healing device with integrated configuration.

    • Haili Qin
    • , Ping Liu
    •  & Shu-Hong Yu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ferroelectricity in orthoferrite perovskites has stimulated intense research, but the mechanism remains unclear. Here, the authors propose an antisite defect mechanism for introducing ferroelectricity in magnetically ordered YFeO3 and the family of rare earth orthoferrites.

    • Shuai Ning
    • , Abinash Kumar
    •  & Caroline A. Ross