a single-molecule approach for understanding and controlling ferroelectricts
Ferroelectrics is an imortant field that shows great promise for the production of very high density non-volatile computer memory, FeRAM (Ferroelectric Random Access Memory). These devices are currently not as fast as DRAM devices, but they still find application, for example, in the Sony Playstation 2. In recent years, device miniaturization has led to an interest in the development of smaller ferroelectric materials with even faster switching rates. This has raised questions about the relevant size effects that lead to deviations from bulk properties and the ultimate cessation of ferroelectric properties. By studying styrene, a simple dipolar hydrocarbon, with low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy we have already begun investigating ferroelectric ordering and ferroelectric transitions at the single-molecule level (JACS 129, 2007, 6368-6369). This preliminary work demonstrated that important ferroelectric properties such as spontaneous polarization, long-range ordering and piezoelectricity could be achieved in nanoscale domains of a weakly polar molecule on a metal surface. We now aim to study ferroelectric assembly, switching, and the effect of an external electric field on a range of similar molecules with different dipole moments. This work will lead to a better understanding of both the finite domain size required for ferroelectric ordering to occur and the nanoscale mechanism of ferroelectric ordering and switching.
Arnold O. Beckman exemplifies the meaning of the word humanitarian. Combined with his unwavering enthusiasm for life, his keen sense of humor and his strong moral and ethical principles, he is a national icon.