CORDIS - EU research results



Summary of project objectives

NANOMOTION was an Initial Training Network of 12 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and 2 Experienced Researchers (ERs) hosted at 8 academic, research, and industrial partner organizations across Europe: University of Aveiro (PT), University of Duisburg-Essen (DE), University of Leeds (UK), University College Dublin (IE), Robert Bosch GmbH (DE), National Physical Laboratory (DE), Tyndall National Institute (IE), and Nanotec (ES). The main objective of NANOMOTION was to provide the ESRs and ERs with up-to-date scientific and technical knowledge in nanoelectromechanical characterization that would enable them to study emergent functional materials such as piezoelectrics, ferroelectrics, multiferroics, ionic conductors, and polar biomaterials at the nanoscale. The specific objectives of NANOMOTION were:
- To train the next generation of scientists in the development and nanocharacterization of four different material classes for which nanoelectromechanical methods are crucial;
- To establish nanoscale functional properties of these materials by using nanoelectromecha-nical techniques in combination with other advanced methods;
- To employ the acquired fundamental knowledge and characterization skills for the transfer of the ESRs and ERs into R&D in the European public and private sectors.

Work performed within the project

ITN training activities

Each NANOMOTION fellow took a multilevel training described in their Personal Career Development Plans (PCDP): PhD courses in their respective Universities, 7 dedicated workshops devoted to various aspects of nanoelectromechanics and complementary materials characterization, various secondments to partner organizations, and participation in international conferences. Local complementary training (e.g. language courses) to each fellow was also available for each fellow.

Main scientific results achieved

The ITN collaborative research activities resulted in several key breakthroughs that demonstrated the power of nanoelectromechanical tools for studying advanced functional materials. Our work resulted in about 30 publications in leading scientific journals such as Nature Communications, Advanced Functional Materials, and Nanoscale, as well as multiple presentations at scientific conferences and workshops in the field. Wider dissemination activities included TV and radio interviews, participations in science fairs, public news articles etc.

The most important scientific results are listed below:
• Both Piezoresponse Force and Electrochemical Strain Microscopies (PFM and ESM) were mastered in the project. ESM in a single frequency mode was implemented and PFM hybrid mode was developed;
• The ergodic and non-ergodic nature of lead-free relaxor ferroelectrics based on KNN and BNT was established;
• Mechanisms of ferroelectric switching and polarization evolution in lead-free piezoelectrics were revealed;
• High-temperature stable B6TFO thin films with in-plane polarization were developed and characterized by PFM; magnetoelectric switching was achieved in B6TFMO thin films at the nanoscale;
• An electromechanical model of PFM setup was developed and domain evolution under applied electric field was derived using finite element modeling;
• Nanoscale properties of magnetoelectric composites based on PZT/NiFe were established;
• Multiferroic clusters were shown to exist in BiFe0.9Co0.1O3(BFC)-Bi1/2K1/2TiO3(BKT) magnetoelectric solid solutions and their properties are determined by ferromagnetic BFC and relaxor BKT components;
• Local study of magnetoelectric effects in BaTiO3–BaFe12O19 confirmed the model of strain-mediated coupling and revealed a nanoscale mechanism of this complex phenomenon in ceramic composites;
• A method to grow stable crystals and nanoislands of amino acid glycine was developed. Ferroelectricity was shown to exist only in beta glycine in which the charged domain walls determine switching behavior;
• Ferroelectric-like behavior was revealed in layered crystals of thymine grown from the solution;
• Self-assembled fmoc-diphanylalanine fibrous gels were developed and piezoelectrically characterized;
• Graphene/SiO2 nanostructures were found to be highly piezoelectric with the piezocoefficient 2 times higher than in the best PZT ceramics;
• The complex interplay of ionic/electronic conductivity and domain formation was established in Mg doped lithium niobate;
• Finite element model for ESM measurements in commercial Li-batteries was developed and validated on lithium manganese cathode material;
• Mechanisms of crack initiation and propagation of Li-batteries cathode materials were delineated;
• Core-shell model of lithiation was experimentally proved in commercial graphite anodes by KPFM;
• Local diffusion coefficients were determined for the first time in fresh and cycled samples of LiMn2O4 cathodes;
• High piezoelectric coefficients and apparent ferroelectricity were discovered in globular proteins.

Potential impact
Scientific advances made within 4 research themes of NANOMOTION have delivered new insights into the mechanisms of nanoelectromechanical methods and their application to various classes of advanced materials. This provided a clue for the successful development of emergent nanostructured materials and their applications in multiple areas ranging from ferroelectric memories to energy storage devices. The collective know-how and infrastructure built within NANOMOTION were sufficient to address the interdisciplinary challenges in the research field. This has generated a cohort of researchers equipped with key expertise in nanoelectromechanics and nanotechnology capable to work in academic and industrial environments towards development of new materials with novel functionalities. As such, the project results will improve the European position in the area of materials research and development.