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Concept: Thin film


The coating of thin films is applied in numerous fields and many methods are employed for the deposition of these films. Some coating techniques may deposit films at high speed; for example, ordinary printing paper is coated with micrometre-thick layers of clay at a speed of tens of meters per second. However, to coat nanometre thin films at high speed, vacuum techniques are typically required, which increases the complexity of the process. Here, we report a simple wet chemical method for the high-speed coating of films with thicknesses at the nanometre level. This soap-film coating technique is based on forcing a substrate through a soap film that contains nanomaterials. Molecules and nanomaterials can be deposited at a thickness ranging from less than a monolayer to several layers at speeds up to meters per second. We believe that the soap-film coating method is potentially important for industrial-scale nanotechnology.

Concepts: Light, Coating, Thin film, Speed, Deposit account, Thin films, Miles per hour, Speed of light


Unipolar resistance switching (RS) in TiO2 thin films originates from the repeated formation and rupture of the Magnéli phase conducting filaments through repeated nano-scale phase transitions. By applying the Johnson-Mehl-Avrami (JMA) type kinetic model to the careful analysis on the evolution of transient current in a pulse-switching, it was possible to elucidate the material specific evolution of the Magnéli phase filament. This methodology was applied to the two types of TiO2 films grown by plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition (PEALD) and sputtering. These two samples have structurally and electrically distinctive properties: PEALD film exhibited high variability in switching parameters and required an electroforming while sputtered film showed higher uniformity without distinct electroforming process. The JMA-type kinetic analysis of the RS behaviors revealed that the rejuvenation of the filament is accomplished by repeated one-dimensional nucleation followed by a two-dimensional growth in PEALD samples, whereas one-dimensional nucleation-free mechanism dominates in sputtered films.

Concepts: Layer, Manifold, Chemical vapor deposition, Thin film, Spinodal decomposition, Crystal growth, Sputtering, Self-cleaning glass


Low-temperature epitaxial growth of AlN ultrathin films was realized by atomic layer deposition (ALD) together with the layer-by-layer, in-situ atomic layer annealing (ALA), instead of a high growth temperature which is needed in conventional epitaxial growth techniques. By applying the ALA with the Ar plasma treatment in each ALD cycle, the AlN thin film was converted dramatically from the amorphous phase to a single-crystalline epitaxial layer, at a low deposition temperature of 300 °C. The energy transferred from plasma not only provides the crystallization energy but also enhances the migration of adatoms and the removal of ligands, which significantly improve the crystallinity of the epitaxial layer. The X-ray diffraction reveals that the full width at half-maximum of the AlN (0002) rocking curve is only 144 arcsec in the AlN ultrathin epilayer with a thickness of only a few tens of nm. The high-resolution transmission electron microscopy also indicates the high-quality single-crystal hexagonal phase of the AlN epitaxial layer on the sapphire substrate. The result opens a window for further extension of the ALD applications from amorphous thin films to the high-quality low-temperature atomic layer epitaxy, which can be exploited in a variety of fields and applications in the near future.

Concepts: X-ray crystallography, Chemical vapor deposition, Wafer, Thin film, Epitaxy, Gallium nitride, Thin film deposition, Atomic layer epitaxy


Scalable and low-cost doping of graphene could improve technologies in a wide range of fields such as microelectronics, optoelectronics, and energy storage. While achieving strong p-doping is relatively straightforward, non-electrostatic approaches to n-dope graphene, such as chemical doping, have yielded electron densities of 9.5 × 10(12) e/cm(2) or below. Furthermore, chemical doping is susceptible to degradation and can adversely affect intrinsic graphene’s properties. Here we demonstrate strong (1.33 × 10(13) e/cm(2)), robust, and spontaneous graphene n-doping on a soda-lime-glass substrate via surface-transfer doping from Na without any external chemical, high-temperature, or vacuum processes. Remarkably, the n-doping reaches 2.11 × 10(13) e/cm(2) when graphene is transferred onto a p-type copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) semiconductor that itself has been deposited onto soda-lime-glass, via surface-transfer doping from Na atoms that diffuse to the CIGS surface. Using this effect, we demonstrate an n-graphene/p-semiconductor Schottky junction with ideality factor of 1.21 and strong photo-response. The ability to achieve strong and persistent graphene n-doping on low-cost, industry-standard materials paves the way toward an entirely new class of graphene-based devices such as photodetectors, photovoltaics, sensors, batteries, and supercapacitors.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Neutron, Semiconductor, Thin film, Copper indium gallium selenide, Schottky barrier


Crack formation drives material failure and is often regarded as a process to be avoided. However, closer examination of cracking phenomena has revealed exquisitely intricate patterns such as spirals, oscillating and branched fracture paths and fractal geometries. Here we demonstrate the controlled initiation, propagation and termination of a variety of channelled crack patterns in a film/substrate system comprising a silicon nitride thin film deposited on a silicon substrate using low-pressure chemical vapour deposition. Micro-notches etched into the silicon substrate concentrated stress for crack initiation, which occurred spontaneously during deposition of the silicon nitride layer. We reproducibly created three distinct crack morphologies–straight, oscillatory and orderly bifurcated (stitchlike)–through careful selection of processing conditions and parameters. We induced direction changes by changing the system parameters, and we terminated propagation at pre-formed multi-step crack stops. We believe that our patterning technique presents new opportunities in nanofabrication and offers a starting point for atomic-scale pattern formation, which would be difficult even with current state-of-the-art nanofabrication methodologies.

Concepts: Chemical vapor deposition, Pattern, Thin film, Silicon nitride, Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition


Among the large number of promising two-dimensional (2D) atomic layer crystals, true metallic layers are rare. Using combined theoretical and experimental approaches, we report on the stability and successful exfoliation of atomically thin “gallenene” sheets on a silicon substrate, which has two distinct atomic arrangements along crystallographic twin directions of the parent α-gallium. With a weak interface between solid and molten phases of gallium, a solid-melt interface exfoliation technique is developed to extract these layers. Phonon dispersion calculations show that gallenene can be stabilized with bulk gallium lattice parameters. The electronic band structure of gallenene shows a combination of partially filled Dirac cone and the nonlinear dispersive band near the Fermi level, suggesting that gallenene should behave as a metallic layer. Furthermore, it is observed that the strong interaction of gallenene with other 2D semiconductors induces semiconducting to metallic phase transitions in the latter, paving the way for using gallenene as promising metallic contacts in 2D devices.

Concepts: Electron, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Semiconductor, Solid, Thin film, Electronic band structure, Band gap


In this article, we report only 10 atomic layer thick, high mobility, transparent thin film transistors (TFTs) with ambipolar device characteristics fabricated on both a conventional silicon platform as well as on a flexible substrate. Monolayer graphene was used as metal electrodes, 3-4 atomic layers of h-BN were used as the gate dielectric, and finally bilayers of WSe2 were used as the semiconducting channel material for the TFTs. The field effect carrier mobility was extracted to be 45 cm(2)/(V s), which exceeds the mobility values of state of the art amorphous silicon based TFTs by ∼100 times. The active device stack of WSe2-hBN-graphene was found to be more than 88% transparent over the entire visible spectrum and the device characteristics were unaltered for in-plane mechanical strain of up to 2%. The device demonstrated remarkable temperature stability over 77-400 K. Low contact resistance value of 1.4 kΩ-μm, subthreshold slope of 90 mv/decade, current ON-OFF ratio of 10(7), and presence of both electron and hole conduction were observed in our all two-dimensional (2D) TFTs, which are extremely desirable but rarely reported characteristics of most of the organic and inorganic TFTs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of all 2D transparent TFT fabricated on flexible substrate along with the highest mobility and current ON-OFF ratio.

Concepts: Semiconductor, Silicon, Transistor, Field-effect transistor, Thin film, Thin-film transistor, Amorphous silicon, Thin films


Two-dimensional or ultrathin layered materials are attracting broad interest in both fundamental science and applications. While exfoliation can provide high quality single- and few-layer flakes with nm to µm size, the development of wafer-scale synthesis methods is important for realizing the full potential of ultrathin layered materials. Here we demonstrate the growth of high quality few-layer BN films with controlled thickness by magnetron sputtering of B in N2/Ar, a scalable process using only benign, non-toxic reagents. BN films up to two atomic layers are synthesized by reactive deposition at high substrate temperatures. Thicker monocrystalline BN films with arbitrary number of atomic layers are achieved in a two-step process comprising cycles of alternating room temperature deposition and annealing. Tunneling transport across these BN films shows pinhole-free insulating behavior on µm2 scales, demonstrating the realization of high quality ultrathin dielectrics.

Concepts: Nitrogen, Solid, Materials science, Synthesis, Thin film, Dielectric, OSI model, Boron nitride


We develop a simple approach to fabricate graphene loaded TiO2 thin films on glass substrates by spin-coating technique. Our graphene-loaded TiO2 films were highly conductive, transparent and showed enhanced photocatalytic activities. More significantly, graphene-TiO2 films displayed super-hydrophilicity within short time even under white fluorescent light bulb, as compared to a pure TiO2 film. The enhanced photocatalytic activity of graphene-TiO2 films is attributed to its efficient charge separation, owing to electrons injection from the conduction band of TiO2 to graphene. The electroconductivity of the graphene loaded TiO2 thin film also contributes to the self-cleaning function by its anti-fouling effect against particulate contaminants. The present study reveals the ability of graphene as a low cost co-catalyst instead of expensive noble metals (Pt, Pd), and further shows its capability for the application of self-cleaning coatings with transparency. The promising characteristics of (inexpensive, transparent, conductive, super-hydrophilic, and high photocatalytic active) graphene loaded TiO2 films may have the potential use in various indoor applications.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Ultraviolet, Light, Semiconductor, Fluorescent lamp, Incandescent light bulb, Thin film, Self-cleaning glass


In this paper we report a centrifugal microfluidic “lab-on-a-disc” system for at-line monitoring of human immunoglobulin G (hIgG) in a typical bioprocess environment. The novelty of this device is the combination of a heterogeneous sandwich immunoassay on a serial siphon-enabled microfluidic disc with automated sequential reagent delivery and surface-confined supercritical angle fluorescence (SAF)-based detection. The device, which is compact, easy-to-use and inexpensive, enables rapid detection of hIgG from a bioprocess sample. This was achieved with, an injection moulded SAF lens that was functionalized with aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APTES) using plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD) for the immobilization of protein A, and a hybrid integration with a microfluidic disc substrate. Advanced flow control, including the time-sequenced release of on-board liquid reagents, was implemented by serial siphoning with ancillary capillary stops. The concentration of surfactant in each assay reagent was optimized to ensure proper functioning of the siphon-based flow control. The entire automated microfluidic assay process is completed in less than 30min. The developed prototype system was used to accurately measure industrial bioprocess samples that contained 10mgmL(-1) of hIgG.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, ELISA, Surface tension, Chemical vapor deposition, Immunoassay, Thin film, Silicon nitride, Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition