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  1. Short-range atomic order in semiconductor alloys is a relatively unexplored topic that may promote design of new materials with unexpected properties. Here, local atomic ordering is investigated in Ge–Sn alloys, a group-IV system that is attractive for its enhanced optoelectronic properties achievable via a direct gap for Sn concentrations exceeding ≈10 at. %. The substantial misfit strain imposed on Ge–Sn thin films during growth on bulk Si or Ge substrates can induce defect formation; however, misfit strain can be accommodated by growing Ge–Sn alloy films on Ge nanowires, which effectively act as elastically compliant substrates. In this work, Ge core/Ge 1−x Sn x ( x ≈  0.1) shell nanowires were characterized with extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) to elucidate their local atomic environment. Simultaneous fitting of high-quality EXAFS data collected at both the Ge K-edge and the Sn K-edge reveals a large (≈ 40%) deficiency of Sn in the first coordination shell around a Sn atom relative to a random alloy, thereby providing the first direct experimental evidence of significant short-range order in this semiconductor alloy system. Comparison of path length data from the EXAFS measurements with density functional theory simulations provides alloy atomic structures consistent with this conclusion. 
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  2. Magnetic properties and interfacial phenomena of epitaxial perovskite oxides depend sensitively on parameters such as film thickness and strain state. In this work, epitaxial La 0.67 Sr 0.33 CoO 3 (LSCO)/La 0.67 Sr 0.33 MnO 3 (LSMO) bilayers were grown on NdGaO 3 (NGO) and LaAlO 3 (LAO) substrates with a fixed LSMO thickness of 6 nm, and LSCO thickness (t LSCO ) varying from 2 to 10 nm. Soft x-ray magnetic spectroscopy revealed that magnetically active Co 2+ ions that strongly coupled to the LSMO layer were observed below a critical t LSCO for bilayers grown on both substrates. On LAO substrates, this critical thickness was 2 nm, above which the formation of Co 2+ ions was quickly suppressed leaving only a soft LSCO layer with mixed valence Co 3+ /Co 4+ ions. The magnetic properties of both LSCO and LSMO layers displayed strong t LSCO dependence. This critical t LSCO increased to 4 nm on NGO substrates, and the magnetic properties of only the LSCO layer displayed t LSCO dependence. A non-magnetic layer characterized by Co 3+ ions and with a thickness below 2 nm exists at the LSCO/substrate interface for both substrates. The results contribute to the understanding of interfacial exchange spring behavior needed for applications in next generation spintronic and magnetic memory devices. 
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  3. Abstract

    Electrochemical two-electron water oxidation reaction (2e-WOR) has drawn significant attention as a promising process to achieve the continuous on-site production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). However, compared to the cathodic H2O2generation, the anodic 2e-WOR is more challenging to establish catalysts due to the severe oxidizing environment. In this study, we combine density functional theory (DFT) calculations with experiments to discover a stable and efficient perovskite catalyst for the anodic 2e-WOR. Our theoretical screening efforts identify LaAlO3perovskite as a stable, active, and selective candidate for catalyzing 2e-WOR. Our experimental results verify that LaAlO3achieves an overpotential of 510 mV at 10 mA cm−2in 4 M K2CO3/KHCO3, lower than those of many reported metal oxide catalysts. In addition, LaAlO3maintains a stable H2O2Faradaic efficiency with only a 3% decrease after 3 h at 2.7 V vs. RHE. This computation-experiment synergistic approach introduces another effective direction to discover promising catalysts for the harsh anodic 2e-WOR towards H2O2.

     
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  4. Abstract

    The emergence of ferromagnetism in materials where the bulk phase does not show any magnetic order demonstrates that atomically precise films can stabilize distinct ground states and expands the phase space for the discovery of materials. Here, the emergence of long-range magnetic order is reported in ultrathin (111) LaNiO3(LNO) films, where bulk LNO is paramagnetic, and the origins of this phase are explained. Transport and structural studies of LNO(111) films indicate that NiO6octahedral distortions stabilize a magnetic insulating phase at the film/substrate interface and result in a thickness-dependent metal–insulator transition att = 8 unit cells. Away from this interface, distortions relax and bulk-like conduction is regained. Synchrotron x-ray diffraction and dynamical x-ray diffraction simulations confirm a corresponding out-of-plane unit-cell expansion at the interface of all films. X-ray absorption spectroscopy reveals that distortion stabilizes an increased concentration of Ni2+ions. Evidence of long-range magnetic order is found in anomalous Hall effect and magnetoresistance measurements, likely due to ferromagnetic superexchange interactions among Ni2+–Ni3+ions. Together, these results indicate that long-range magnetic ordering and metallicity in LNO(111) films emerges from a balance among the spin, charge, lattice, and orbital degrees of freedom.

     
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