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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 9, 2024
  2. Metamaterials present great potential in the applications of solar cells and nanophotonics, such as super lenses and other meta devices, owing to their superior optical properties. In particular, hyperbolic metamaterials (HMMs) with exceptional optical anisotropy offer improved manipulation of light–matter interactions as well as a divergence in the density of states and thus show enhanced performances in related fields. Recently, the emerging field of oxide–metal vertically aligned nanocomposites (VANs) suggests a new approach to realize HMMs with flexible microstructural modulations. In this work, a new oxide–metal metamaterial system, CeO 2 –Au, has been demonstrated with variable Au phase morphologies from nanoparticle-in-matrix (PIM), nanoantenna-in-matrix, to VAN. The effective morphology tuning through deposition background pressure, and the corresponding highly tunable optical performance of three distinctive morphologies, were systematically explored and analyzed. A hyperbolic dispersion at high wavelength has been confirmed in the nano-antenna CeO 2 –Au thin film, proving this system as a promising candidate for HMM applications. More interestingly, a new and abnormal in-plane epitaxy of Au nanopillars following the large mismatched CeO 2 matrix instead of the well-matched SrTiO 3 substrate, was discovered. Additionally, the tilting angle of Au nanopillars, α , has been found to be a quantitative measure of the balance between kinetics and thermodynamics during the depositions of VANs. All these findings provide valuable information in the understanding of the VAN formation mechanisms and related morphology tuning. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 31, 2024
  3. Oxide-metal-based hybrid materials have gained great research interest in recent years owing to their potential for multifunctionality, property coupling, and tunability. Specifically, oxide-metal hybrid materials in a vertically aligned nanocomposite (VAN) form could produce pronounced anisotropic physical properties, e.g. , hyperbolic optical properties. Herein, self-assembled HfO 2 -Au nanocomposites with ultra-fine vertically aligned Au nanopillars (as fine as 3 nm in diameter) embedded in a HfO 2 matrix were fabricated using a one-step self-assembly process. The film crystallinity and pillar uniformity can be obviously improved by adding an ultra-thin TiN-Au buffer layer during the growth. The HfO 2 -Au hybrid VAN films show an obvious plasmonic resonance at 480 nm, which is much lower than the typical plasmonic resonance wavelength of Au nanostructures, and is attributed to the well-aligned ultra-fine Au nanopillars. Coupled with the broad hyperbolic dispersion ranging from 1050 nm to 1800 nm in wavelength, and unique dielectric HfO 2 , this nanoscale hybrid plasmonic metamaterial presents strong potential for the design of future integrated optical and electronic switching devices. 
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  4. Multiferroic materials are an interesting functional material family combining two ferroic orderings, e.g. , ferroelectric and ferromagnetic orderings, or ferroelectric and antiferromagnetic orderings, and find various device applications, such as spintronics, multiferroic tunnel junctions, etc. Coupling multiferroic materials with plasmonic nanostructures offers great potential for optical-based switching in these devices. Here, we report a novel nanocomposite system consisting of layered Bi 1.25 AlMnO 3.25 (BAMO) as a multiferroic matrix and well dispersed plasmonic Au nanoparticles (NPs) and demonstrate that the Au nanoparticle morphology and the nanocomposite properties can be effectively tuned. Specifically, the Au particle size can be tuned from 6.82 nm to 31.59 nm and the 6.82 nm one presents the optimum ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties and plasmonic properties. Besides the room temperature multiferroic properties, the BAMO-Au nanocomposite system presents other unique functionalities including localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR), hyperbolicity in the visible region, and magneto-optical coupling, which can all be effectively tailored through morphology tuning. This study demonstrates the feasibility of coupling single phase multiferroic oxides with plasmonic metals for complex nanocomposite designs towards optically switchable spintronics and other memory devices. 
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