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Sep 13, 2021

By confining the transport of electrons and ions, scientists show they can alter material properties

Posted by in categories: materials, quantum physics

Like ripples in a pond, electrons travel like waves through materials, and when they collide and interact, they can give rise to new and interesting patterns.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have seen a new kind of wave pattern emerge in a thin film of metal oxide known as titania when its shape is confined. Confinement, the act of restricting materials within a boundary, can alter the properties of a material and the movement of molecules through it.

In the case of titania, it caused electrons to interfere with each other in a unique pattern, which increased the oxide’s conductivity, or the degree to which it conducts electricity. This all happened at the mesoscale, a scale where scientists can see both quantum effects and the movement of electrons and molecules.

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