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  1. Abstract

    In this study, we explore the rejuvenation of a Zener diode degraded by high electrical stress, leading to a leftward shift, and broadening of the Zener breakdown voltage knee, alongside a 57% reduction in forward current. We employed a non-thermal annealing method involving high-density electric pulses with short pulse width and low frequency. The annealing process took <30 s at near-ambient temperature. Raman spectroscopy supports the electrical characterization, showing enhancement in crystallinity to explain the restoration of the breakdown knee followed by improvement in forward current by ∼85%.

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  2. Abstract

    Traditional approaches to control the microstructure of materials, such as annealing, require high temperature treatment for long periods of time. In this study, we present a room temperature microstructure manipulation method by using the mechanical momentum of electrical current pulses. In particular, a short burst of high-density current pulses with low duty cycle is applied to an annealed FeCrAl alloy, and the corresponding response of microstructure is captured by using Electron Backscattered Diffraction (EBSD) analysis. We show evidence of controllable changes in grain orientation at specimen temperature around 28 °C. To demonstrate such microstructural control, we apply the current pulses in two perpendicular directions and observe the corresponding grain rotation. Up to 18° of grain rotation was observed, which could be reversed by varying the electropulsing direction. Detailed analysis at the grain level reveals that electropulsing in a specific direction induces clockwise rotation from their pristine state, while subsequent cross-perpendicular electropulsing results in an anticlockwise rotation. In addition, our proposed room temperature processing yields notable grain refinement, while the average misorientation and density of low-angle grain boundaries (LAGBs) remain unaltered. The findings of this study highlight the potentials of ‘convective diffusion’ in electrical current based materials processing science towards microstructural control at room temperature.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  3. Low-angle grain boundaries (LAGBs) accommodate residual stress through the rearrangement and accumulation of dislocations during cold rolling. This study presents an electron wind force-based annealing approach to recover cold-rolling induced residual stress in FeCrAl alloy below 100 °C in 1 min. This is significantly lower than conventional thermal annealing, which typically requires temperatures around 750 °C for about 1.5 h. A key feature of our approach is the athermal electron wind force effect, which promotes dislocation movement and stress relief at significantly lower temperatures. The electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) analysis reveals that the concentration of low-angle grain boundaries (LAGBs) is reduced from 82.4% in the cold-rolled state to a mere 47.5% following electropulsing. This level of defect recovery even surpasses the pristine material’s initial state, which exhibited 54.8% LAGBs. This reduction in LAGB concentration was complemented by kernel average misorientation (KAM) maps and X-ray diffraction (XRD) Full Width at Half Maximum (FWHM) measurements, which further validated the microstructural enhancements. Nanoindentation tests revealed a slight increase in hardness despite the reduction in dislocation density, suggesting a balance between grain boundary refinement and dislocation dynamics. This proposed low-temperature technique, driven by athermal electron wind forces, presents a promising avenue for residual stress mitigation while minimizing undesirable thermal effects, paving the way for advancements in various material processing applications.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  4. Thermal annealing is commonly used in fabrication processing and/or performance enhancement of electronic and opto-electronic devices. In this study, we investigate an alternative approach, where high current density pulses are used instead of high temperature. The basic premise is that the electron wind force, resulting from the momentum loss of high-energy electrons at defect sites, is capable of mobilizing internal defects. The proposed technique is demonstrated on commercially available optoelectronic devices with two different initial conditions. The first study involved a thermally degraded edge-emitting laser diode. About 90% of the resulting increase in forward current was mitigated by the proposed annealing technique where very low duty cycle was used to suppress any temperature rise. The second study was more challenging, where a pristine vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) was subjected to similar processing to see if the technique can enhance performance. Encouragingly, this treatment yielded a notable improvement of over 20% in the forward current. These findings underscore the potential of electropulsing as an efficient in-operando technique for damage recovery and performance enhancement in optoelectronic devices.

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  5. Abstract MXenes are atomically layered carbides and nitrides of transition metals that have potential for micro-devices applications in energy storage, conversion, and transport. This emerging family of materials is typically studied as nanosheets or ultra-thin films, for which the internal defects are mostly nanoscale flake-flake interface separation type. However, micro-devices applications would require thicker films, which exhibit very high density of microscale pores. Electrical conductivity of thicker MXenes is significantly lower than nanosheets, and the physics of defect size and density control are also different and less understood. Current art is to perform high temperature annealing to improve the electrical conductivity, which can structurally alter or degrade MXene. The key contribution of this study is a room-temperature annealing process that exploits the synergy between electrical pulses and compressive mechanical loading. Experimental results indicate over a 90% increase in electrical conductivity, which reflects a decrease in void size and density. In the absence of compressive loading, the same process resulted in a conductivity increase of approximately 75%. Analytical spectroscopy and microscopy indicated that the proposed multi-stimuli process kept the MXene composition intact while significantly decreasing the void size and density. 
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