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  1. Abstract

    Multiferroic materials have generated great interest due to their potential as functional device materials. Nanocomposites have been increasingly used to design and generate new functionalities by pairing dissimilar ferroic materials, though the combination often introduces new complexity and challenges unforeseeable in single-phase counterparts. The recently developed approaches to fabricate 3D super-nanocomposites (3D‐sNC) open new avenues to control and enhance functional properties. In this work, we develop a new 3D‐sNC with CoFe2O4(CFO) short nanopillar arrays embedded in BaTiO3(BTO) film matrix via microstructure engineering by alternatively depositing BTO:CFO vertically-aligned nanocomposite layers and single-phase BTO layers. This microstructure engineering method allows encapsulating the relative conducting CFO phase by the insulating BTO phase, which suppress the leakage current and enhance the polarization. Our results demonstrate that microstructure engineering in 3D‐sNC offers a new bottom–up method of fabricating advanced nanostructures with a wide range of possible configurations for applications where the functional properties need to be systematically modified.

  2. Bi 3 MoM T O 9 (BMoM T O; M T , transition metals of Mn, Fe, Co and Ni) thin films with a layered supercell structure have been deposited on LaAlO 3 (001) substrates by pulsed laser deposition. Microstructural analysis suggests that pillar-like domains with higher transition metal concentration ( e.g. , Mn, Fe, Co and Ni) are embedded in the Mo-rich matrix with layered supercell structures. The layered supercell structure of the BMoM T O thin films accounts for the anisotropic multifunctionalities such as the magnetic easy axis along the in-plane direction, and the anisotropic optical properties. Ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism have been demonstrated in the thin films at room temperature, which confirms the multiferroic nature of the system. By varying the transition metal M T in the film, the band gaps of the BMoM T O films can be effectively tuned from 2.44 eV to 2.82 eV, while the out-of-plane dielectric constant of the thin films also varies. The newly discovered layered nanocomposite systems present their potential in ferroelectrics, multiferroics and non-linear optics.
  3. Inducing new phases in thick films via vertical lattice strain is one of the critical advantages of vertically aligned nanocomposites (VANs). In SrTiO 3 (STO), the ground state is ferroelastic, and the ferroelectricity in STO is suppressed by the orthorhombic transition. Here, we explore whether vertical lattice strain in three-dimensional VANs can be used to induce new ferroelectric phases in SrTiO 3 :MgO (STO:MgO) VAN thin films. The STO:MgO system incorporates ordered, vertically aligned MgO nanopillars into a STO film matrix. Strong lattice coupling between STO and MgO imposes a large lattice strain in the STO film. We have investigated ferroelectricity in the STO phase, existing up to room temperature, using piezoresponse force microscopy, phase field simulation and second harmonic generation. We also serendipitously discovered the formation of metastable TiO nanocores in MgO nanopillars embedded in the STO film matrix. Our results emphasize the design of new phases via vertical epitaxial strain in VAN thin films.
  4. Ferromagnetic nanostructures with strong anisotropic properties are highly desired for their potential integration into spintronic devices. Several anisotropic candidates, such as CoFeB and Fe–Pt, have been previously proposed, but many of them have limitations such as patterning issues or thickness restrictions. In this work, Co–BaZrO 3 (Co–BZO) vertically aligned nanocomposite (VAN) films with tunable magnetic anisotropy and coercive field strength have been demonstrated to address this need. Such tunable magnetic properties are achieved through tuning the thickness of the Co–BZO VAN structures and the aspect ratio of the Co nanostructures, which can be easily integrated into spintronic devices. As a demonstration, we have integrated the Co–BZO VAN nanostructure into tunnel junction devices, which demonstrated resistive switching alluding to Co–BZO's immense potential for future spintronic devices.
  5. Self-assembled vertically aligned metal–oxide (Ni–CeO 2 ) nanocomposite thin films with novel multifunctionalities have been successfully deposited by a one-step growth method. The novel nanocomposite structures presents high-density Ni-nanopillars vertically aligned in a CeO 2 matrix. Strong and anisotropic magnetic properties have been demonstrated, with a saturation magnetization ( M s ) of ∼175 emu cm −3 and ∼135 emu cm −3 for out-of-plane and in-plane directions, respectively. Such unique vertically aligned ferromagnetic Ni nanopillars in the CeO 2 matrix have been successfully incorporated in high temperature superconductor YBa 2 Cu 3 O 7 (YBCO) coated conductors as effective magnetic flux pinning centers. The highly anisotropic nanostructures with high density vertical interfaces between the Ni nanopillars and CeO 2 matrix also promote the mixed electrical and ionic conductivities out-of-plane and thus demonstrate great potential as nanocomposite anode materials for solid oxide fuel cells and other potential applications requiring anisotropic ionic transport properties.