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  1. Abstract

    Electrical modulation of magnetic states in single-phase multiferroic materials, using domain-wall magnetoelectric (ME) coupling, can be enhanced substantially by controlling the population density of the ferroelectric (FE) domain walls during polarization switching. In this work, we investigate the domain-wall ME coupling in multiferroic h-YbFeO3thin films, in which the FE domain walls induce clamped antiferromagnetic (AFM) domain walls with reduced magnetization magnitude. Simulation according to the phenomenological theory indicates that the domain-wall ME effect is dramatically enhanced when the separation between the FE domain walls shrinks below the characteristic width of the clamped AFM domain walls during the ferroelectric switching. Experimentally, we show that while the magnetization magnitude remains same for both the positive and the negative saturation polarization states, there is evidence of magnetization reduction at the coercive voltages. These results suggest that the domain-wall ME effect is viable for electrical control of magnetization.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Clusters of nitrogen‐ and carbon‐coordinated transition metals dispersed in a carbon matrix (e. g., Fe−N−C) have emerged as an inexpensive class of electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). Here, it was shown that optimizing the interaction between the nitrogen‐coordinated transition metal clusters embedded in a more stable and corrosion‐resistant carbide matrix yielded an ORR electrocatalyst with enhanced activity and stability compared to Fe−N−C catalysts. Utilizing first‐principles calculations, an electrostatics‐based descriptor of catalytic activity was identified, and nitrogen‐coordinated iron (FeN4) clusters embedded in a TiC matrix were predicted to be an efficient platinum‐group metal (PGM)‐free ORR electrocatalyst. Guided by theory, selected catalyst formulations were synthesized, and it was demonstrated that the experimentally observed trends in activity fell exactly in line with the descriptor‐derived theoretical predictions. The Fe−N−TiC catalyst exhibited enhanced activity (20 %) and durability (3.5‐fold improvement) compared to a traditional Fe−N−C catalyst. It was posited that the electrostatics‐based descriptor provides a powerful platform for the design of active and stable PGM‐free electrocatalysts and heterogenous single‐atom catalysts for other electrochemical reactions.

     
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  3. Abstract

    High‐entropy alloys combine multiple principal elements at a near equal fraction to form vast compositional spaces to achieve outstanding functionalities that are absent in alloys with one or two principal elements. Here, the prediction, synthesis, and multiscale characterization of 2D high‐entropy transition metal dichalcogenide (TMDC) alloys with four/five transition metals is reported. Of these, the electrochemical performance of a five‐component alloy with the highest configurational entropy, (MoWVNbTa)S2, is investigated for CO2conversion to CO, revealing an excellent current density of 0.51 A cm−2and a turnover frequency of 58.3 s−1at ≈ −0.8 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode. First‐principles calculations show that the superior CO2electroreduction is due to a multi‐site catalysis wherein the atomic‐scale disorder optimizes the rate‐limiting step of CO desorption by facilitating isolated transition metal edge sites with weak CO binding. 2D high‐entropy TMDC alloys provide a materials platform to design superior catalysts for many electrochemical systems.

     
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  4. Abstract

    Interface plays a critical role in determining the physical properties and device performance of heterostructures. Traditionally, lattice mismatch, resulting from the different lattice constants of the heterostructure, can induce epitaxial strain. Over past decades, strain engineering has been demonstrated as a useful strategy to manipulate the functionalities of the interface. However, mismatch of crystal symmetry at the interface is relatively less studied due to the difficulty of atomically structural characterization, particularly for the epitaxy of low symmetry correlated materials on the high symmetry substrates. Overlooking those phenomena restrict the understanding of the intrinsic properties of the as‐ determined heterostructure, resulting in some long‐standing debates including the origin of magnetic and ferroelectric dead layers. Here, perovskite LaCoO3‐SrTiO3superlattice (SL) is used as a model system to show that the crystal symmetry effect can be isolated by the existing interface strain. Combining the state‐of‐art diffraction and electron microscopy, it is found that the symmetry mismatch of LaCoO3‐SrTiO3SL can be tuned by manipulating the SrTiO3layer thickness to artificially control the magnetic properties. The work suggests that crystal symmetry mismatch can also be designed and engineered to act as an effective strategy to generate functional properties of perovskite oxides.

     
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  5. Abstract

    Heteroanionic oxysulfide perovskite compounds represent an emerging class of new materials allowing for a wide range of tunability in the electronic structure that could lead to a diverse spectrum of novel and improved functionalities. Unlike cation ordered double perovskites—where the origins and design rules of various experimentally observed cation orderings are well known and understood—anion ordering in heteroanionic perovskites remains a largely uncharted territory. In this contribution, we present and discuss insights that have emerged from our first-principles-based electronic structure analysis of a prototypical anion-ordered SrHf(O0.5S0.5)3oxysulfide chemistry, studied in all possible anion configurations allowed within a finite size supercell. We demonstrate that the preferred anion ordering is always an all-cisarrangement of anions around an HfO3S3octahedron. As a general finding beyond the specific chemistry, the origins of this ordering tendency are traced back to a combined stabilization effect stemming from electronic, elastic, and electrostatic contributions. These qualitative notions are also quantified using state-of-the-art machine learning models. We further study the relative stability of the identified ordering as a function of A (Ca, Sr, Ba) and B (Ti, Zr, Hf) site chemistries and probe chemistry-dependent trends in the electronic structure and functionality of the material. Most remarkably, we find that the identified ground-state anion ordering breaks the inversion symmetry to create a family of oxysulfide ferroelectrics with a macroscopic polarization >30 μC/cm2, exhibiting a significant promise for electronic materials applications.

     
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  6. Abstract

    To evaluate the role of planar defects in lead‐halide perovskites—cheap, versatile semiconducting materials—it is critical to examine their structure, including defects, at the atomic scale and develop a detailed understanding of their impact on electronic properties. In this study, postsynthesis nanocrystal fusion, aberration‐corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy, and first‐principles calculations are combined to study the nature of different planar defects formed in CsPbBr3nanocrystals. Two types of prevalent planar defects from atomic resolution imaging are observed: previously unreported Br‐rich [001](210)∑5 grain boundaries (GBs) and Ruddlesden–Popper (RP) planar faults. The first‐principles calculations reveal that neither of these planar faults induce deep defect levels, but their Br‐deficient counterparts do. It is found that the ∑5 GB repels electrons and attracts holes, similar to an n–p–n junction, and the RP planar defects repel both electrons and holes, similar to a semiconductor–insulator–semiconductor junction. Finally, the potential applications of these findings and their implications to understand the planar defects in organic–inorganic lead‐halide perovskites that have led to solar cells with extremely high photoconversion efficiencies are discussed.

     
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  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  8. The recent observation of ferroelectricity in the metastable phases of binary metal oxides, such as HfO2, ZrO2, Hf0.5Zr0.5O2, and Ga2O3, has garnered a lot of attention. These metastable ferroelectric phases are typically stabilized using epitaxial strain, alloying, or defect engineering. Here, we propose that hole doping plays a key role in the stabilization of polar phases in binary metal oxides. Using first-principles density-functional-theory calculations, we show that holes in these oxides mainly occupy one of the two oxygen sublattices. This hole localization, which is more pronounced in the polar phase than in the nonpolar phase, lowers the electrostatic energy of the system, and makes the polar phase more stable at sufficiently large concentrations. We demonstrate that this electrostatic mechanism is responsible for stabilization of the ferroelectric phase of HfO2 aliovalently doped with elements that introduce holes to the system, such as La and N. Finally, we show that spontaneous polarization in HfO2 is robust to hole doping, and a large polarization persists even under a high concentration of holes. 
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  9. Oxy-combustion systems result in enriched CO 2 in exhaust gases; however, the utilization of the concentrated CO 2 stream from oxy-combustion is limited by remnant O 2 . CH 4 oxidation using Pd catalysts has been found to have high O 2 -removal efficiency. Here, the effect of excess CO 2 in the feed stream on O 2 removal with CH 4 oxidation is investigated by combining experimental and theoretical approaches. Experimental results reveal complete CH 4 oxidation without any side-products, and a monotonic increase in the rate of CO 2 generation with an increase in CO 2 concentration in the feed stream. Density-functional theory calculations show that high surface coverage of CO 2 on Pd leads to a reduction in the activation energy for the initial dissociation of CH 4 into CH 3 and H, and also the subsequent oxidation reactions. A CO 2 -rich environment in oxy-combustion systems is therefore beneficial for the reduction of oxygen in exhaust gases. 
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  10. Materials with metastable phases can exhibit vastly different properties from their thermodynamically favored counterparts. Methods to synthesize metastable phases without the need for high-temperature or high-pressure conditions would facilitate their widespread use. We report on the electrochemical growth of microcrystals of bismuth selenide, Bi2Se3, in the metastable orthorhombic phase at room temperature in aqueous solution. Rather than direct epitaxy with the growth substrate, the spontaneous formation of a seed layer containing nanocrystals of cubic BiSe enforces the metastable phase. We first used single-crystal silicon substrates with a range of resistivities and different orientations to identify the conditions needed to produce the metastable phase. When the applied potential during electrochemical growth is positive of the reduction potential of Bi3+, an initial, Bi-rich seed layer forms. Electron microscopy imaging and diffraction reveal that the seed layer consists of nanocrystals of cubic BiSe embedded within an amorphous matrix of Bi and Se. Using density functional theory calculations, we show that epitaxial matching between cubic BiSe and orthorhombic Bi2Se3 can help stabilize the metastable orthorhombic phase over the thermodynamically stable rhombohedral phase. The spontaneous formation of the seed layer enables us to grow orthorhombic Bi2Se3 on a variety of substrates including single-crystal silicon with different orientations, polycrystalline fluorine-doped tin oxide, and polycrystalline gold. The ability to stabilize the metastable phase through room-temperature electrodeposition in aqueous solution without requiring a single-crystal substrate broadens the range of applications for this semiconductor in optoelectronic and electrochemical devices. 
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