The Quantum Chemistry group contribute to two articles published in Nature

Design and fabrication of memory devices based on nanoscale polyoxometalate clusters
Christoph Busche, Laia Vilà-Nadal, Jun Yan, Haralampos N. Miras, De-Liang Long, Vihar P. Georgiev, Asen Asenov, Rasmus H. Pedersen, Nikolaj Gadegaard, Muhammad M. Mirza, Douglas J. Paul, Josep M. Poblet & Leroy Cronin

Flash memory devices - that is, non-volatile computer storage media that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed- are vital for portable electronics, but the scaling down of metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) flash memory to sizes of below ten nanometres per data cell presents challenges. Molecules have been proposed to replace MOS flash memory, but they suffer from low electrical conductivity, high resistance, low device yield, and finite thermal stability, limiting their integration into current MOS technologies. Although great advances have been made in the pursuit of molecule-based flash memory, there are a number of significant barriers to the realization of devices using conventional MOS technologies. Here we show that core-shell polyoxometalate (POM) molecules can act as candidate storage nodes for MOS flash memory. Realistic, industry-standard device simulations validate our approach at the nanometre scale, where the device performance is determined mainly by the number of molecules in the storage me dia and not by their position. To exploit the nature of the core-shell POM clusters, we show, at both the molecular and device level, that embedding[(Se(IV)O3)2]4- as an oxidizable dopant in the cluster core allows the oxidation of the molecule to a [Se(V)2O6]2- moiety containing a {Se(V)-Se(V)} bond (where curly brackets indicate a moiety, not a molecule) and reveals a new 5+ oxidation state for selenium. This new oxidation state can be observed at the device level, resulting in a new type of memory, which we call ‘write-once-erase‚. Taken together, these results show that POMs have the potential to be used as a realistic nanoscale flash memory. Also, the configuration of the doped POM core may lead to new types of electrical behaviour. This work suggests a route to the practical integration of configurable molecules in MOS technologies as the lithographic scales approach the molecular limit.

Artificial chemical and magnetic structure at the domain walls of an epitaxial oxide
S. Farokhipoor, C. Magén, S. Venkatesan, J. Íñiguez, C. J. M. Daumont, D. Rubi, E. Snoeck, M. Mostovoy, C. de Graaf, A. Müller, M. Döblinger, C. Scheu & B. Noheda

Progress in nanotechnology requires new approaches to materials synthesis that make it possible to control material functionality down to the smallest scales. An objective of materials research is to achieve enhanced control over the physical properties of materials such as ferromagnets, ferroelectrics and superconductors. In this context, complex oxides and inorganic perovskites are attractive because slight adjustments of their atomic structures can produce large physical responses and result in multiple functionalities. In addition, these materials often contain ferroelastic domains. The intrinsic symmetry breaking that takes place at the domain walls can induce properties absent from the domains themselves, such as magnetic or ferroelectric order and other functionalities, as well as coupling between them. Moreover, large domain wall densities create intense strain gradients, which can also affect the material's properties. Here we show that, owing to large local stresses, domain walls can promote the formation of unusual phases. In this sense, the domain walls can function as nanoscale chemical reactors. We synthesize a two-dimensional ferromagnetic phase at the domain walls of the orthorhombic perovskite terbium manganite (TbMnO3), which was grown in thin layers under epitaxial strain on strontium titanate (SrTiO3) substrates. This phase is yet to be created by standard chemical routes. The density of the two-dimensional sheets can be tuned by changing the film thickness or the substrate lattice parameter (that is, the epitaxial strain), and the distance between sheets can be made as small as 5 nanometres in ultrathin films, such that the new phase at domain walls represents up to 25 per cent of the film volume. The general concept of using domain walls of epitaxial oxides to promote the formation of unusual phases may be applicable to other materials systems, thus giving access to new classes of nanoscale materials for applications in nanoelectronics and spintronics.