Mechanics of charge

Understanding local dynamic charge processes is critical to advances in a variety of fields including microelectronics and energy storage. This requires the ability to observe how charge carriers move over different distances and time scales and to understand how these processes interact with the natural variations of materials.

A team led by Marty Sega and Liam Collins of Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a groundbreaking way to understand how electrical charges behave at the microscopic scale. Their work, published in Nature Communications, could help make batteries, solar panels and other electronic devices work better and last longer.

In their study, the team talks about their new method, which enables them to see how electric charges move at the incredibly small but ultrafast nanometer level. It's like having a high-speed camera that can capture clear videos of a hummingbird's wings flapping, when before we could only see blurry images.

They used a scanning probe microscope and an intelligent control system that moves in a spiral pattern to scan objects. They also used advanced computer programs to analyze the data. Let's see how this new method works better than before.

This new technique is a big deal because it enables scientists at the Center for Nanoscale Materials Sciences at ORNL to more efficiently explore different materials and devices.

Scientists Mentioned, „This approach has been shown to enable sub-second imaging of nanoscale charge dynamics, representing several orders of magnitude improvement over traditional Kelvin probe force microscopy imaging rates.”

„Together, these findings highlight the effectiveness and versatility of our method in understanding ionic charge carrier movement in microelectronics or nanoscale material systems.”

Journal Note:

  1. Checa, M., Fuhr, AS, Sun, C. et al. High-speed mapping of surface charge dynamics using sparse scanning Kelvin probe force microscopy. Nat Commun 14, 7196 (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-42583-x
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