Materials science began by studying the way a substance’s chemical makeup determines its properties. Recently, however, scientists have come to realize there is more to a material than its composition: changes in the shape of many materials at the nanometer-scale can produce startling changes in their behavior. But there remains one class of materials that has been frustratingly difficult to pattern into nanosized particles without destroying the property that makes them unique: ferroelectrics. New research conducted by materials scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley tackles the open questions surrounding nanosized ferroelectic materials with an array of cutting edge experimental techniques. Their findings, published last week in the journal Nature Materials, indicate that there may be light at the end of the tunnel for ferroelectrics after all.
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