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With new Siberian semiconductor tech, materials may have their properties varied at will

7 Sep '17
Chemists at the Tomsk State University (TSU) in Siberia have come up with a new technology of developing nanodispersed metal oxide semiconductor materials. With a proprietary combination of ingredients under their belt the researchers are said to be able to add to the materials some useful pre-computed properties, such as the ability to absorb or reflect the infrared spectrum. The technology may find its way into a wide variety of areas—from boosting solar panels efficiency to making innovative screens for smartphones, tablets and other gadgets, to protecting spacecraft against overheating.

The novel materials come from TSU’s Siberian Institute of Physics and Technology (SIPT) and provide a set of complex indium-tin-based oxide systems. “During synthesis we add to them some elements that help increase the concentration of free charge carriers, thus making it possible to give materials properties we want them to possess,” a developer in the TSU team was quoted as saying.

For example, it’s possible to vary levels of electromagnetic absorption and reflection in a given wavelength range. Selective coatings based on nanodispersed semiconductor materials could be used in aircraft- and shipbuilding as well as in spacecraft and solar engineering projects to maintain desired thermal conditions and protect instruments from overheating.

On top of that, with the new Tomsk technology Russia could consider setting up its own large-scale production of magnetron sputtering targets, a useful product the world’s leading electronics makers widely utilize to manufacture transparent thin-film conductive coatings (TCFs) for TV, smartphone or tablet screens. Currently Russia is importing expensive targets from Japan and Korea; domestic analogs are expected to be much more affordable.

“To obtain a homogenous target structure foreign manufacturers mix oxides, grind them in a humid environment for five hours, and then dry them and granulate to extract fine particles 0.1 to a few micrometers in diameter. The resulting mixture undergoes pre-molding and pressing, followed by 10-hour-long sintering at 1,200-to-1,500 degrees Celsius,” said Tatiana Malinovskaya, the project leader, adding that for their finely dispersed oxide mixture the TSU researchers use the sol-gel technique and take very little time to obtain nanoparticles of a given size. This helps save time and cut the cost of the end product.

The semiconductor materials technology TSU has developed is said to produce no toxic by-products, a noteworthy competitive advantage for any industrial project that might use it. TSU has built a prototype synthesis machine that already enables nanodispersed metal oxide materials production with no danger of hazardous emissions.