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  1. Surface functionalized barium titanate (BaTiO 3 ) nanocrystals have been explored for highly tunable chemical and electronic properties, potentially of use in ceramic-polymer composites for flexible ferroelectric device applications, directed synthesis of ferroelectric thin films or other nano-architectures, and other potential applications. The detailed temperature dependent local structure evolution of BaTiO 3 nanocubes capped with nonpolar oleic acid (OA) and polar tetrafluoroborate (BF 4 − ) ligands are investigated using in situ synchrotron X-ray diffraction and pair distribution function (PDF) analysis, in conjunction with piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) and 137 Ba nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy measurements. Diffraction analysis reveals that nanocubes capped by polar BF 4 − ligands undergo sharper ferroelectric to paraelectric phase transitions than nanocubes capped with nonpolar OA ligands, with the smallest ∼12 nm nanocubes displaying no transition. Local non-centrosymmetric symmetry is observed by PDF analysis and confirmed by NMR, persisting across the phase transition temperature. Local distortion analysis, manifested in tetragonality ( c / a ) and Ti off-centering ( z Ti ) parameters, reveals distinct temperature and length-scale dependencies with particle size and capping group. Ferroelectric order is increased by polar BF 4 − ligands, which is corroborated by an enhancement of PFM response.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 20, 2023
  2. A series of Al2O3-supported Fe-containing catalysts were synthesized by incipient wetness impregnation. The iron surface density was varied from 1 to 13 Fe atoms/nm2 spanning sub- and above-monolayer coverage. The resulting supported Fe-catalysts were characterized with N2 physisorption, ex situ XRD, PDF, XAS, AC-STEM and chemically probed by H2-TPR. The results suggest that over this entire range of loadings, Fe was present as dispersed species, with only a very small fraction of Fe2O3 aggregates, at the highest Fe loading. The in situ sulfidation of Fe/Al2O3 resulted in the formation of a highly active and selective PDH catalyst. The highest activity with 52% propane conversion and ~99% propylene selectivity at 560 °C was obtained for the 6.4 Fe/Al2O3 catalyst suggesting that this is the highest amount of Fe that could be fully dispersed on the support in sulfided form. XRD and AC-STEM indicated the absence of any crystalline iron sulfide aggregates after sulfidation and reaction. H2-TPR results indicated that the amount of the reducible Fe sites in the sulfided catalyst remained constant above monolayer coverage, and increasing loading did not increase the number of reducible Fe sites. Consistent with these results, the reactivity per gram of catalyst showed no increase withmore »Fe loading above monolayer coverage, suggesting that additional Fe remains conformal to the alumina surface.« less
  3. Abstract Crystalline solids exhibiting glass-like thermal conductivity have attracted substantial attention both for fundamental interest and applications such as thermoelectrics. In most crystals, the competition of phonon scattering by anharmonic interactions and crystalline imperfections leads to a non-monotonic trend of thermal conductivity with temperature. Defect-free crystals that exhibit the glassy trend of low thermal conductivity with a monotonic increase with temperature are desirable because they are intrinsically thermally insulating while retaining useful properties of perfect crystals. However, this behavior is rare, and its microscopic origin remains unclear. Here, we report the observation of ultralow and glass-like thermal conductivity in a hexagonal perovskite chalcogenide single crystal, BaTiS 3 , despite its highly symmetric and simple primitive cell. Elastic and inelastic scattering measurements reveal the quantum mechanical origin of this unusual trend. A two-level atomic tunneling system exists in a shallow double-well potential of the Ti atom and is of sufficiently high frequency to scatter heat-carrying phonons up to room temperature. While atomic tunneling has been invoked to explain the low-temperature thermal conductivity of solids for decades, our study establishes the presence of sub-THz frequency tunneling systems even in high-quality, electrically insulating single crystals, leading to anomalous transport properties well above cryogenicmore »temperatures.« less
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 13, 2023
  5. The long-term durability of cement-based materials is influenced by the pore structure and associated permeability at the sub-micrometre length scale. With the emergence of new types of sustainable cements in recent decades, there is a pressing need to be able to predict the durability of these new materials, and therefore nondestructive experimental techniques capable of characterizing the evolution of the pore structure are increasingly crucial for investigating cement durability. Here, small-angle neutron scattering is used to analyze the evolution of the pore structure in alkali-activated materials over the initial 24 h of reaction in order to assess the characteristic pore sizes that emerge during these short time scales. By using a unified fitting approach for data modeling, information on the pore size and surface roughness is obtained for a variety of precursor chemistries and morphologies (metakaolin- and slag-based pastes). Furthermore, the impact of activator chemistry is elucidated via the analysis of pastes synthesized using hydroxide- and silicate-based activators. It is found that the main aspect influencing the size of pores that are accessible using small-angle neutron scattering analysis (approximately 10–500 Å in diameter) is the availability of free silica in the activating solution, which leads to a more refined pore structure withmore »smaller average pore size. Moreover, as the reaction progresses the gel pores visible using this scattering technique are seen to increase in size.« less