Accounts of Chemical Research

Accounts of Chemical Research is by my reckoning a major journal.  Whilst I am not enamoured of metrics particularly, it boasts an impact factor of something like 21.6, putting it in pretty rarefied company — somewhere near Nature Materials, Nature Physics, that sort of thing.  Hence, it is with great satisfaction that I have a review article coming out in the jounral.  In fact, it already has a DOI, and can be viewed here.  Of course, publishing models being what they are, unless the reader works at a university or somewhere similar, the thing will be inaccessible.

Even so, what’s it about?  Well, here is the abstract:

Local Ordering in Lead-Based Relaxor Ferroelectrics.

Darren Goossens

Accounts of Chemical Research (impact factor: 21.64). 06/2013; DOI:10.1021/ar400073w

Lead-based ferroelectric materials are both well-studied and widely used and have a wide range of applications from ultrasonics to energy harvesting and beyond. However, the use of Pb-containing materials is environmentally undesirable, due to the toxicity of lead. This is particularly highlighted by the disposal of Pb-based devices when their lifespan is through. Because of this large drawback, chemists have been searching for Pb-free ferroic materials that can replace PZN (PbZn1/3Nb2/3O3), PMN (PbMg1/3Nb2/3O3), PZT (PbZr1-xTixO3), and all their derivatives. Underlying much of materials chemistry is the idea that function arises from structure, so if we can determine the structure of a material, we can understand how its useful properties arise. This understanding can then lead to the tuning of these properties and the development of new materials. However, the question arises: What is meant by structure? Conventionally, structure is determined by X-ray or neutron diffraction, in which the Bragg peak intensities are measured and a unit cell is determined. In many materials, local ordering, order that persists only for few unit cells or nanometers, is important in determining the physical properties. This is very much the case in the relaxor ferroelectrics, an important class of functional oxides. Indeed, disorder, randomness, and short-range order (SRO) are all invoked to help explain many of the key properties. The local order in Pb-based ferroelectrics has been extensively studied, with the most definitive probe being single-crystal diffuse scattering. In this Account, I outline the current debate on the nature of the local order and explore how this information can inform the search for lead-free materials. Local order, as distinct from the overall average order revealed by conventional techniques, relates more closely to the crystal chemistry of the individual ions and so appears to give a better insight into how the crystal chemistry leads to the ferroelectric properties.

And here’s a picture:

The hk0 slice of the diffraction pattern of PZN, showing different diffraction features -- streaks and 'butterflies'.

The hk0 slice of the diffraction pattern of PZN, showing different diffraction features — streaks and ‘butterflies’.

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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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