Hailin Wang, Jaume Gazquez, Carlos Frontera, Matthew F. Chisholm, Alberto Pomar, Benjamin Martinez & Narcis Mestres. NPG Asia Materials volume 11, Article number: 44 (2019).
Using polymers to control the growth of ceramic thin films can make it easier to produce materials for spintronic applications, which use electron spin instead of charge to carry information. When the semiconductor lanthanum cobalt manganese oxide (La2CoMnO6) adopts a crystal arrangement known as a double perovskite structure, it takes on boosted magnetic properties. Narcis Mestres from the Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona in Spain and colleagues have developed a fabrication strategy that lets La2CoMnO6 epitaxial thin films grow in an optimal orientation for device applications. The team used a mixture of water-soluble polymers to bind to metal cations and slow down crystallization rates so that the most thermodynamically favored perovskite structure formed. The resulting surfaces were smooth down to a nanometer scale, and had significantly higher magnetism than samples grown with conventional vapor deposition techniques.