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Unusual magnetic transition in perovskite oxide can help boost spintronics

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Unusual magnetic transition in perovskite oxide can help boost spintronics

Transition metal perovskites oxides exhibit several desirable properties, including high-temperature superconductivity and electrocatalysis. Now, scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology explore the structure and properties of a perovskite oxide, PbFeO3, in anticipation of the unusual charge distribution and exotic magnetic transitions displayed by such systems. They report two of the magnetic transitions, with a distinctive transition above room temperature and look into its causes, opening doors to potential applications in realizing new spintronic devices.

The advent of electronics has revolutionized our lives to an extent where it is impossible to imagine going about our day without relying on an electronic device in some form. What is even more remarkable, however, is that we can improve these devices even further by harnessing the electron’s “spin” – a property which makes the electron behave like a magnet – to create memory devices that are faster and use lower power than traditional electronics.

Accordingly, the field devoted to this endeavor, aptly called “spintronics”, relies on exploiting the “spin state” of the electron. However, controlling spin can be extremely tricky, a fact that often leads scientists on a hunt for materials with ordered spin states.

Their attention has recently turned to lead-based transition metal perovskite oxides, a class of materials represented by PbMO3 (where the “M” indicates 3d transition metal ion), that display rather interesting phase transitions in spin states, making them appealing for practical applications.

In a recent study published in Nature Communications, a team of scientists from China, Japan, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, France, and USA, examined the perovskite oxide PbFeO3, a compound that has evaded inspection until now, owing to difficulties in synthesizing samples and resolving its crystal structure.

“”The perovskite family of PbMO3 exhibits complex charge distributions and RFeO3 (R = rare earth) shows several interesting spin-related properties, such as laser-induced ultrafast spin reorientation, so we expect similarly characteristic charge distribution and rich spin-state transitions for PbFeO3,” comment Prof. Masaki Azuma from Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan and Prof. Youwen Long from Chinese Academy of Science, who led the study.

Consequently, the team investigated the structure, charge state, and magnetic properties of PbFeO3 using a variety of characterization techniques and backed up their observation with density functional theory (DFT) calculations.

The team found that PbFeO3 crystallized into a unique “charge-ordered” state in which a layer of Pb2+ ions was interleaved by two layers made up of a mixture of Pb2+ and Pb4+ ions in a 3:1 ratio, along the direction of layer stacking (Figure 1).

On cooling the sample from high temperature, the team observed two distinct magnetic phase transitions: a weak ferromagnetic transition occurring at 600 K (327C) characterized by a “canted antiferromagnetic” spin ordering (oppositely directed neighboring spins), and a continuous spin reorientation (SR) transition at 418 K (145C) (Figure 2).

The SR transition, although common in all RFeO3 perovskites, stood out in this case because it occurred at a much higher temperature compared to those for other perovskites, and unlike the R – Fe magnetic interactions usually identified as the cause for this transition, there was no such counterpart in the case of PbFeO3.

To resolve the conundrum, scientists turned to DFT calculations, which revealed that the unique charge ordering in PbFeO3 led to the formation of two Fe3+ “sublattices” with competing energies that, in turn, caused the peculiar SR transition.

The team is thrilled by these findings and their implications for future applications. “”Our work provides a new avenue for studying the charge ordering phase and distinctive SR transition with potential applications in spintronic devices due to the high transition temperature and possible tuning,” remarks the theoretical team leader, Prof. Hena Das.

One thing’s for sure – we’re one step closer to making spintronics the reality of tomorrow!

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Flower or power? Campaigners fear lithium mine could kill rare plant

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Flower or power? Campaigners fear lithium mine could kill rare plant


Flower or power? Campaigners fear lithium mine could kill rare plant

By Romain FONSEGRIVES

Rhyolite Ridge, United States (AFP) May 23, 2024






Delicate pink buds sway in the desert breeze, pregnant with yellow pompoms whose explosion will carpet the dusty corner of Nevada that is the only place on Earth where they exist.

Under their roots lie vast reserves of lithium, vital for the rechargeable electric car batteries that will reduce planet-heating pollution.

But campaigners fear the extraction of the precious metal could destroy the flower’s tiny habitat.

“This mine is going to cause extinction,” says Patrick Donnelly, an environmentalist who works at the Center for Biological Diversity, a non-governmental organization.

“They somehow claim that they’re not harming the (plant). But can you imagine if someone built an open-pit mine 200 feet from your house? Wouldn’t that affect your life profoundly?”

The plant in question is Tiehm’s buckwheat.

There are only around 20,000 known specimens, growing in a few very specific places on a total surface area equivalent to around five soccer fields.

In 2022, the wildflower was classified as endangered by US federal authorities, with mining cited as a major threat to its survival.

The plant and the lithium reserve on which it grows embody one of the key challenges and contradictions of the global climate struggle: how much damage can we inflict on the natural world as we seek to halt or reverse the problems we have already created?

– ‘Coexist’ –

Bernard Rowe, boss of Australian miner Ioneer, which holds the mineral rights to the area, says the lithium produced at Rhyolite Ridge “will be sufficient to provide batteries for about 370,000 vehicles” a year.

“We’ll do that year-on-year for 26 years,” he said.

Those nearly 10 million vehicles will go a long way towards meeting the goal President Joe Biden has set of cutting down the nation’s fleet of gas-guzzlers as a way to slash US production of planet-warming pollutants.

So-called zero-emission cars make up around 7.5 percent of new vehicle sales in the United States today — more than double the percentage just a few years earlier.

In California, the figure is more than 20 percent.

And while expansion in the sector has slowed, the category remains the fastest-growing, according to Kelley Blue Book.

And it’s not only in the United States: Global demand for lithium will increase five to seven times by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.

The difficulty for US manufacturers is that much of the world’s lithium supply is dominated by strategic rival China, as well as Australia and Chile.

“The United States has very, very little domestic production,” said Rowe.

“So it’s important to develop a domestic supply chain to allow for that energy transition, and Rhyolite Ridge will be an integral part of that.”

Ioneer’s plans show that over the years the mine is in operation — it is projected to start producing lithium in late 2027 — around a fifth of the plant’s habitat will be directly affected.

But the company, which has spent $2.5 million researching the plant, says mining will not affect its survival; it is already growing well in greenhouses and biologists think it can be replanted.

“We’re very confident that the mine and Tiehm’s buckwheat can coexist,” Rowe said.

– ‘Greenwashing’ –

Donnelly counters that Ioneer is “basically greenwashing extinction.”

“They’re saying. ‘We’re going to save this plant,’ when actually they are going to send it to its doom,” he said.

Under the company’s plans, the strip mine will use hundreds of trucks, which Donnelly says will raise clouds of dust that will affect photosynthesis and harm the insects that pollinate the plants.

Ioneer says it has already planned mitigation methods, like dust curtains, and keeping the roads wet.

Still, Donnelly says, why not just move the mine? But Rowe counters that it’s not as simple as just digging somewhere else.

Ioneer has invested $170 million since 2016 to demonstrate the feasibility of this site, which it believes is one of the best around.

“Many of these other deposits haven’t had that amount of work, so they’re not viable alternatives to a project like this,” he said.

The US Department of Energy has offered Ioneer a $700 million loan for the project, if the Bureau of Land Management signs off on an operating permit.

Donnelly insists the issue is not just the future of one obscure wildflower, but rather just one example of large-scale biodiversity loss that is threatening millions of plants and animals.

“If we solve the climate crisis, but we drive everything extinct while we do it, we’re still going to lose our world,” he said.

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Tesla breaks ground on huge Shanghai battery plant

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Tesla breaks ground on huge Shanghai battery plant


Tesla breaks ground on huge Shanghai battery plant

by AFP Staff Writers

Shanghai (AFP) May 23, 2024






Tesla broke ground on a massive battery factory in Shanghai on Thursday, Chinese state media reported, making it the US electric car giant’s second plant in the financial hub.

The project was announced last April after boss Elon Musk presented a vague but ambitious plan to investors to turbocharge growth.

However, the company last month reported a 55 percent drop in quarterly earnings, reflecting a decline in EV sales in an intensively competitive market.

The new Shanghai factory should make 10,000 units per year of Tesla’s Megapack batteries, state news agency Xinhua said.

Tesla says Megapacks are intended to store energy and stabilise supply for power grids, with each unit able to store more than three megawatt-hours of power.

The factory is expected to start mass production in 2025, state media said in May.

“I believe the new plant is a milestone for both Shanghai and Tesla,” the company’s vice president Tao Lin told Xinhua.

“In a more open environment, we can… supply the global market with large-scale energy-storage batteries manufactured in China.”

Musk has extensive business interests in China and is a fairly frequent visitor.

In April, he met Chinese Premier Li Qiang, and received a key security clearance for Tesla’s locally produced EVs.

Musk’s interests in China have long raised eyebrows in Washington — President Joe Biden has said in the past that his links to foreign countries were “worthy” of scrutiny.

The battery plant will be Tesla’s second in the Chinese city after its enormous Shanghai Gigafactory, which broke ground in 2019.

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Improved polymer additive enhances perovskite solar cells

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Improved polymer additive enhances perovskite solar cells


Improved polymer additive enhances perovskite solar cells

by Simon Mansfield

Sydney, Australia (SPX) May 16, 2024






Perovskite solar cells, known for their lightweight and flexible nature, are inexpensive and easy to manufacture. They are seen as a promising technology that can be attached to various surfaces. However, these solar cells currently lack durability and efficiency. New research highlights how adding a polymerized ionic liquid to the metal halide perovskite material can improve their performance, potentially facilitating wider adoption of perovskite solar cells.

“The commonly employed solution processing method for fabricating perovskite layers introduces many defects in both the bulk and surface of the perovskite layer. These intrinsic defects within the perovskite absorption layer pose a significant constraint on the overall performance of the devices. Additive engineering has been demonstrated to be effective as a strategy for defect passivation and performance enhancement in perovskite solar cells,” said Qi Cao, a researcher at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China.



Researchers are enhancing the properties of ionic liquids by creating polymerized versions. In this study, they synthesized a poly ionic liquid called poly4-styrenesulfonyl(trifluoremethylsulfonyl)imidepyridine (PSTSIPPyri).



The addition of PSTSIPPyri to the perovskite solar cell helps prevent halide ion migration, maintains the crystal structure, and improves the solar cell’s stability by fixing organic and halide ions.



“To date, researchers have devoted considerable attention to the meticulous selection of additives that enhance the performance of perovskite solar cells. Among these, ionic liquids have received widespread attention. Ionic bonds in ionic liquids tend to be stronger and more stable, and they offer various tunable properties, including viscosity, polarity, and conductivity,” said Xuanhua Li, a researcher at Northwestern Polytechnical University. “This tunability makes it possible to fine-tune the ionic liquid properties to meet the specific requirements of the perovskite film, thereby optimizing device performance.”



Testing of the PSTSIPPyri additive involved aging perovskite films for 300 hours at 85C and 60% relative humidity. The enhanced perovskite film showed a slower rate of change than the control film. It also retained 84.5% of its efficiency after 1000 hours in a high humidity, high heat environment, compared to 43.6% for the control.



Long-term durability tests showed that with PSTSIPPyri, the perovskite solar cell maintained 87.6% of its power conversion efficiency after 1,500 hours of continuous light, while the control only maintained 61.1%.



“Incorporating PSTSIPPyri as an additive leads to a significant enhancement in the power conversion efficiency of inverted perovskite solar cells from 22.06% to 24.62%. They also demonstrate excellent long-term operational stability,” said Cao. “This strategy illustrates the potential of poly ionic liquids as a promising additive for perovskite solar cells, offering both high performance and stability.”



Other contributors include Xingyuan Chen, Tong Wang, Jiabao Yang, Xingyu Pu, Hui Chen, Bingxiu Xue, and Jianbo Yin at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China; Long Jiang at the CNPC Tubular Goods Research Institute in Xi’an, China.



Research Report:Efficiency enhancement to 24.62% in inverted perovskite solar cells through poly (ionic liquid) bulk modification


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