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November 2013
In This Issue
Solar Cells Get Skinny
An Indium Fix For Nanocrystal-Based Electronics
Using CVD Diamond to Cool Hot Devices
Tiny 'LEGO Brick' Style Studs Make Solar Panels a Quarter More Efficient
Alternative To Antibiotics: Plasmas Attack Bacterial Cells On Several Levels
Nanotechnology Approach to Corrosion Sensing Coatings
E-skin Researchers Create User-Interactive and Flexible Sensors
Research of Highly Rugged and Lightweight Liquid Crystal Displays
Microplasma Chemical Vapor Deposition with Atomic Force Microscope
Solving Ethanol's Corrosion Problem May Help Speed the Biofuel to Market
ORNL Finding Goes Beyond Surface of Oxide Films
Upcoming Conferences of Interest to Vacuum Coaters
Solar Cells Get Skinny
From Photonics Spectra, September 2013:  
"Engineers at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., are using computer modeling to produce the thinnest and most lightweight solar panels possible. Such panels could be made from stacked sheets of one-molecule-thick materials such as graphene or molybdenum disulfide.
Two layers of such atom-thick materials could yield solar cells with 1 to 2 percent efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity. That's low, compared with the 15 to 20 percent efficiency of standard silicon solar cells. The two-layer cell is only 1 nm thick; typical silicon solar cells can be hundreds of thousands of times that. Stacking several of the 2-D layers could boost the efficiency significantly. Pound for pound the new solar cells produce up to 1000 times more power than conventional photovoltaics.

The slender size is not only advantageous in shipping, but also in ease of mounting solar panels. About half the cost of today's panels is in support structures, installation, wiring and control systems, expenses that could be reduced through the use of lighter structures. The material itself is also much less expensive than the highly purified silicon used for standard cells - and because they require only minuscule amounts of the raw materials." 

The work appears in Nano Letters (doi: 10.1021/nl401544y).

Source: Read the full article... : 

Image: Photonics Spectra/ Jeffrey Grossman & Marco Bernardi 


An Indium Fix For Nanocrystal-Based Electronics.
From Chemical & Engineering News, August 29, 2013 by Kate Greene:
"To build components for flexible electronics, some engineers have turned to thin films made from semiconductor nanocrystals. Unfortunately, many of these nanomaterials lose their unique electronic properties when exposed to air or solvent, making them incompatible with large-scale fabrication methods.  
A team at University of Pennsylvania developed a repair technique of infusing the films with indium while working with CdSe nanocrystals, which are one of the most intensely studied classes of nanocrystals. The problem with CdSe and other nanocrystals is that their high surface-to-volume ratio enhances their reactivity, making them particularly sensitive to water, oxygen, and many solvents. Because exposure to air and solvents leads to surface defects that impede performance, engineers must fabricate devices with the materials under inert atmospheres and in dry conditions. These special conditions aren't amenable to large-scale fabrication. The indium-infused films performed better in a number of electrical performance tests. For example, electron mobility was about 50 times greater in the treated films than in the untreated ones. Based on data from voltammetry and ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, the researchers concluded that the indium treatment repairs the thin films by forcing oxygen and water molecules to desorb from the films' surfaces."

Research is reported in ACS Nano 2013 (DOI: 10.1021/nn403752d).

Source: Read the full article... 

Chemical & Engineering News: 

Image: ACS Nano      

Using CVD Diamond to Cool Hot Devices
From NASA Tech Briefs, September 1, 2013 by Bruce Bollinger, Daniel Twitchen, and Dr. Richard Balmer (Element Six):
"Increasing power densities and decreasing transistor dimensions are hallmarks of many of today's semiconductor devices. GaN devices are further enabling higher power densities in smaller die sizes. Both trends are significantly increasing the thermal management challenge within the chip and surrounding package or module. Thermal management solutions for these high-power-density devices must go beyond today's commonly used materials. In fact more than half of the failures in today's electronic systems are due to excess heat. 
Synthetic diamond is a good material for thermal management in semiconductor packaging because it combines exceptionally high thermal conductivity with electrical isolation. Room temperature thermal conductivity values greater than 2000 W/mK have been reported for the highest quality polycrystalline synthetic diamond grown by microwave plasma assisted CVD techniques. This is the highest value of all known materials and exceeds that of copper, which is commonly regarded as an excellent thermal conductor, by a factor of more than five. By tailoring the synthesis process it has been possible to produce a range of thermal conductivities varying by a factor of two between 1000 W/mK and 2000 W/mK. The commercial availability of large CVD diamond plates has opened a host of possible options in which CVD diamond can be used in the heat management of electronic and opto-electronic devices. Control of diamond grown by CVD has allowed the synthesis of material with optimized cost/performance for various thermal management challenges in semiconductor packages and modules."

Source: Read the full article...
NASA Tech Briefs:
Image: NASA Tech Briefs     
Tiny 'LEGO Brick' Style Studs Make Solar Panels a Quarter More Efficient
From Imperial College London, October 18, 2013 by Simon Levey:  "Most solar cells used in homes and industry are made using thick layers of material to absorb sunlight, but have been limited in the past by relatively high costs. Many new, lower cost designs are limited as their layer of light-absorbing material is too thin to extract enough energy. 
In new research, scientists have demonstrated that the efficiency of all solar panel designs could be improved by up to 22 per cent by covering their surface with aluminum studs that bend and trap light inside the absorbing layer.

At the microscopic level, the studs make the surface of the solar panels look similar to the interlocking building bricks played with by children across the world.

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports by scientists from Imperial College London and international collaborators in Belgium, China and Japan."

Source: Read the full article...
Imperial College London:
Image: Wikipedia Commons / Alan Chia   
Alternative To Antibiotics: Plasmas Attack Bacterial Cells On Several Levels
From Ruhr University Bochum, Oct 1, 2013:  
"As they destroy bacteria very efficiently, plasmas constitute an alternative to chemical disinfectants and potentially to antibiotics, as well. How they achieve this effect has been investigated by biologists, plasma physicists and chemists at the Ruhr-Universität (RUB). Cold atmospheric-pressure plasmas attack the prokaryote's cell envelope, proteins and DNA.

"This is too great a challenge for the repair mechanisms and the stress response systems of bacteria," says Junior Professor Dr Julia Bandow, Head of the Junior Research Group Microbial Antibiotic Research at the RUB. "In order to develop plasmas for specific applications, for example for treating chronic wounds or for root canal disinfection, it is important to understand how they affect cells. Thus, undesirable side effects may be avoided right from the start."

The team reports in the "Journal of the Royal Society Interface." 

Source: Read the full article...

Ruhr University Bochum:    

Image: Jan-Wilm Lackmann 

Nanotechnology Approach to Corrosion Sensing Coatings
  From Nanowerk Spotlight, September 30, 2013 by Michael Berger:
"Due to the massive economic impact of corrosion degradation on metallic structures, the area of active protective coatings has been developed very fast in the past few years. The goal is to significantly reduce the maintenance costs in many industrial applications by applying active sensing coatings. The indication of corrosion activity by these coatings will allow optimization of the maintenance operations avoiding excessive unnecessary preventive operations in the cases when coating is still able to protect the metallic structures. 
This article looks at a novel sensing active coating on the basis of nanocapsules containing pH-indicating agent. The main idea of this work by a research team from the University of Aveiro in Portugal, is to create a novel active protective coating which is able to indicate when corrosion processes start under the coatings or in different defects.

The nanoreactors being introduced in the coating change their color in the zones where corrosion processes start. An important feature of these nanoreactors is that the indicating molecules are not released from the mesoporous nanocarriers, thereby preventing spontaneous leaching and ensuring long service time. Several mechanisms of self-healing can be integrated in the same coating providing effective active protection which is proportional to the external impacts such as corrosive attack and mechanical impacts. In such a coating, the active healing agents responsible for different mechanisms are encapsulated in micro- or nano-containers and then integrated into the polymer coating.

Researchers published their findings in the September 17, 2013 online edition of Nanotechnology ("Nanocontainer-based corrosion sensing coating")."

Source: Read the full article...
Image: Nanowerk/IOP Publishing 
E-skin Researchers Create User-Interactive and Flexible Sensors
From Star Science, October 1, 2013, by Joyce Lampert: 
Electronic skin or e-skin is a thin electronic material that mimics human skin in one or more ways such as stretching, sensing temperature and pressure, and ability to heal itself. E-skin potential applications include sensors (biological, vibrational and chemical), prosthetic limbs, robotics and displays. Researchers have recently announced the development of two new e-skin designs. 
  •  "A research team at University of California, Berkeley, has created the first user-interactive sensor network on flexible plastic. The new e-skin responds to touch by instantly lighting up. The more intense the pressure, the brighter the light it emits. To create the pliable e-skin, the engineers cured a thin layer of polymer on top of a silicon wafer. Once the plastic hardened, they layer on the electronic components. After the electronics were stacked, they simply peeled off the plastic from the silicon base, leaving a freestanding film with a sensor network embedded in it. In addition to giving robots a finer sense of touch, the engineers believe the new e-skin technology could also be used to create things like wallpapers that double as touchscreen displays and dashboard laminates that allow drivers to adjust electronic controls with the wave of a hand.  The work is described in a paper published online in the journal Nature Materials  ."
  •   "Using tiny gold particles and a kind of resin, a team of scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has discovered how to make a new kind of flexible sensor that one day could be integrated into e-skin. The secret lies in the sensor's ability to detect three kinds of data simultaneously. While current kinds of e-skin detect only touch, the Technion team's invention can simultaneously sense touch, humidity, and temperature, as real skin can.

    The team discovered that when monolayer-capped nanoparticles are laid on top of a substrate of PET (flexible polyethylene terephthalate), the resulting compound conducted electricity differently depending on how the substrate was bent. Varying how thick the substrate is, as well as what it is made of, scientists can modify how sensitive the sensor is."  Their work appears in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.     

Source: Read the full article... 

UC Berkeley/Sarah Yang.: 

Printed Electronics World:  


Images: UC Berkeley/Al Javey and Chuan Wang and Printed Electronics World.      

Research of Highly Rugged and Lightweight Liquid Crystal Displays
From Stuttgart University (Germany), September 2, 2013:   
"Displays for smartphones or tablet-PCs should be highly ruggedized at little overall weight. For curved displays, that might play a role in advertising or the automotive sector, a certain flexibility of the display materials is mandatory. Together with national and international industry partners, scientists at the University of Stuttgart have started the development of very robust and extremely lightweight displays within the research project LiCRA. Instead of common glass substrates these displays are based on plastic foils what makes them flexible. The overall market for rugged displays is estimated to a total of US$7  billion until 2015.
The project is scheduled for 30 month and is funded with a total of 1.5 million Euros (US$2.03 million) by the German Federal Ministry of Science and Education and the national funding agencies of the international partners, respectively. Some of the partners of the LiCRA consortium are the Institute of Large Area Microelectronics of the University of Stuttgart, Plastic Logic (U.K.), Etkes and Sons (Isreal) and LOFO High Tech Film GmbH (Germany).

Together with Plastic Logic, scientists of the University of Stuttgart will develop a process flow for the assembly of liquid crystal cells on plastic. Plastic Logic will advance and adapt its organic TFT technology, which has been used for monochrome e-paper displays. The actual mounting process for the liquid crystal cells will be developed at the University of Stuttgart. LOFO High Tech Film will develop the plastic films required for the realization of the liquid crystal displays.
Source: Read the full article...

University of Stuttgart:

Plastic Logic 
Microplasma Chemical Vapor Deposition with Atomic Force Microscope
From SPIE Newsroom, September 30, 2013, by Massood Tabib-Azar (University of Utah):
"Localized deposition and etching of semiconducting materials are important in device research for quantum computers and information processing systems. As an example, lithography and deposition enable construction of two coupled quantum dots near a single-electron transistor channel for performing manipulations of quantum-bit information. However, realizing such devices is difficult, even with the most advanced e-beam lithography techniques: the distances between the various parts are on a nanometer scale, and there are stringent requirements on the properties of the devices' semiconducting and insulating regions. Currently, such technologies are realized by a combination of top-down lithography and bottom-up techniques, such as multiple oxidation steps to 'form' quantum dots near the channel. But these methods rely heavily on chance. 

One possibility for controlling the process is to use high-resolution AFMs and STMs to deposit the quantum dots exactly where they are required. Researchers at the University of Utah have been working on methods that use AFM to deposit and etch a variety of electronic materials on arbitrary surfaces with nanometer-scale precision. They designed special AFM probes with integrated channels to bring precursor gases such as silicon tetrachloride, silane (SiH4), and germane (GeH4) to the apex of the AFM tip, where electric fields generated by metallic electrodes create localized plasmas to decompose and deposit silicon and germanium under the tip. Using plasmas of etchant gases such as sulfur hexafluoride, they employed the same functionalized probe to etch nanometer-scale spots to define barriers, or to 'correct' and etch. It is a 3D nanofabrication method capable of depositing a wide range of materials on substrates with arbitrary contours, ranging from polymers to ceramics."

DOI: 10.1117/2.1201309.004991

Source: Read the full article...
SPIE Newsroom:
Image: SPIE     
Solving Ethanol's Corrosion Problem May Help Speed the Biofuel to Market
From NACE International, September 10, 2013:   
"If we're to meet a goal set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Renewable Fuels Standard to use 36 billion gallons per year of biofuels-mostly ethanol-the nation must expand its infrastructure for transporting and storing ethanol. For the large volumes required in the future, transportation by pipeline is considered to be the most efficient method to get it to customers.  

One of the most important concerns with regard to the integrity of pipelines and tanks is the propensity of ethanol at concentrations above 20 volume percent in gasoline to cause cracking of steel. This phenomenon is called stress corrosion cracking.

By developing novel techniques, researchers found that oxygen has two effects that conspire to cause the cracking of steel. The first effect is that oxygen protects most of the steel surface. But by protecting most of the steel surface oxygen channels all the degradation to occur on isolated areas of steel that is highly stressed. Such focused degradation results in rapid penetration of steel. The other effect of oxygen is that it pushes the corrosion processes to occur faster in the unprotected portion of the steel.

The fundamental mechanism of how oxygen causes cracking of steel is described in a paper published in NACE International's CORROSION journal (


Source: read the full article. (PDF)   


ORNL Finding Goes Beyond Surface of Oxide Films
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), August 13, 2013:  
"Researchers at the Department of Energy's Center for Nanoscale Material Sciences at ORNL learned that key surface properties of complex oxide films are unaffected by reduced levels of oxygen during fabrication - an unanticipated finding with possible implications for the design of functional complex oxides used in a variety of consumer products.  
While the properties of the manganite material below the surface change as expected with the removal of oxygen, becoming an insulator rather than a metal, or conductor, researchers found that the sample showed remarkably stable electronic properties at the surface. Researchers emphasized that the robustness of a surface matters because it is precisely the surface properties that determine, influence and affect the functionality of complex oxides in catalysis and batteries.

Making this d  iscovery possible was the fact the authors did their experiment using scanning probe microscopy in a vacuum system with no exposure of the samples to the atmosphere. This contrasts with the conventional approach of growing a sample and then installing it in analysis equipment. During such a transfer, scientists expose the material to the water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide in the air
Work is published in the journal Nanoscale, DOI: 10.1039/C3NR02343E.

Source: Read the full article...
Image: ORNL/Royal Society of Chemistry
Upcoming Conferences of Interest to Vacuum Coaters
7th symposium 7th Symposium on Vacuum Based Science and Technology in conjunction with
the 12th Annual Meeting of the German Vacuum Society (DVG)

November 19-21, 2013

Kolobrzeg, POLAND
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