A research paper that emerged from a partnership between University of Oregon chemist James E. Hutchison and Sony was the most-accessed paper in 2014 in the monthly journal ACS Nano.
The paper detailed a new method to rapidly produce high yields of tiny metal oxide crystals for use as catalysts in electronic and other materials. The technique created by the five-member team used environmentally friendly green chemistry methods and avoided limitations that had resulted in nanocrystals with wide core size distributions and poor structural order, or crystallinity, that had slowed progress in the field.
The research was part of the Nanoscience Open Research Initiative involving Hutchison's lab and Sony researchers. The collaboration was completed last fall. The work was done in the UO's Advanced Materials Characterization in Oregon (CAMCOR) facilities. CAMCOR, a high-tech extension service for university and industry research, is located in the underground Lorry I. Lokey Laboratories.
"This is an excellent legacy for the collaborative work that we did with Sony," said Hutchison, the UO's Lokey-Harrington Chair in Chemistry, about the paper's most-accessed status. “And it is a testament to the use-inspired basic research strategy that we pursued as part of the Open Research Initiative. In this case, the requirements for practical use of the materials inspired us to discover a new, general method to produce high-performance nanomaterials.”
The team's approach led to the production of uniformly sized nanoparticles containing manganese, iron, cobalt, zinc and indium. The technique also allows for the growth of unique cores — shell structures that can be used to resist environmental degradation or engineer new optical properties for the materials.
Metal oxide nanocrystals are highly desired for use as pigments, catalysts, fillers, coatings and electronic materials. They are especially promising for use in lithium ion batteries, solar cells, light-emitting diodes, sensors and transparent electrodes.
Sony and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory supported the project. ACS Nano is a journal of the American Chemical Society.
— By Jim Barlow, Public Affairs Communications