PerspectiveMaterials Science

Functional Ion Defects in Transition Metal Oxides

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Science  23 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6148, pp. 858-859
DOI: 10.1126/science.1243098

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Transition metal oxides exhibit an astonishing array of functionalities that result from a combination of the strongly polarizable metal-oxygen bond and the so-called strong correlations between the localized transition metal valence electrons. The polarizability of transition metal oxides causes a heightened sensitivity to external electric fields, which can be exploited in applications such as highly insulating dielectrics in microcapacitors. Strong electron correlations, which cause each valence electron to explicitly affect the response of all other valence electrons in the system, are believed to underlie exotic phenomena such as high-temperature superconductivity. The coexistence and cross-couplings between these functionalities (see the figure, panel A) enables materials properties that have led to the widespread use of oxides—for example, as piezoelectric transducers that convert mechanical energy to electrical energy—and may form the basis of new device paradigms, such as the control of magnetism with electric fields.