Usually, when we think of a device that has defects, it means it's time to throw it out. However, for several types of materials, imperfections are what actually make them function in the first place. Finding ways to control defects in a material without irrevocably damaging it could yield new information in the quest for an array of improved devices.
Synchrotron X-rays are frequently used to image a wide range of different materials, but they can also cause chemical changes as well. In a new study, researchers at the
In the experiment, the researchers looked at titanium dioxide, a material known for exhibiting multiple resistive states induced by defect movement. This behavior, known as resistive switching, could offer scientists a mechanism that may hold the key to potential new computer memories and even artificial neurons, according to
"It's not easy to make a nanoscale device that switches reliably between resistive states," Hong said. "In order to design reliable resistive switching materials, you need to understand and control the defect at the nanoscale."
When the titanium dioxide cell was exposed to the X-rays generated by
"This result was somewhat serendipitous, in that people had known that X-rays could damage these materials, but they hadn't been looking for this kind of reversible change," Kim said.
An article based on the research, titled "X-ray Irradiation Induced Reversible Resistance Change in Pt/TiO2/Pt Cells", appeared in the
This research was funded by the U.S.
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