Research

Methods


Different techniques for materials synthesis represent our main methodology since the body of the research programme relates to their application for preparation of diverse functional materials. The work at the Department is thus organized in four laboratories.

The ceramics laboratory comprises all the required equipment for processing and is adapted for preparation of chemically different systems. It includes 12 tube furnaces (up to 1600°C), 5 chamber furnaces (up to 1750°C), among which one enables firing in high pressure of oxygen, planetary ball mill, grinding and polishing machine, climatic test chamber, and other equipment, required for the solid-state synthesis. Within the laboratory for the liquid-phase synthesis proper control over environmental conditions is achieved and therefore it is dedicated for preparation of corresponding sols and various hydrothermally-derived nanostructures, while for the synthesis of sol-gel thin films a cleanroom of class 4 with corresponding equipment is used. For development of materials applicable in medicine we equipped a new laboratory, which include a multiplate reader, colony counting system, incubator, inverted microscope and other laboratory equipment, required for work with bacteria. Growth of epitaxial layers and heterostructures is performed in the PLD laboratory using pulsed laser deposition system, which is suited for ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions and manipulation of reactive targets based on the connection to a glove box. The system is also connected with a storage chamber and a thermal analysis chamber, while using a UHV suitcase transfer of as-prepared films into various analytical chambers for in-situ structural- and chemical-property analysis is possible. As-prepared materials are analyzed using two X-ray diffractometers, among which one is used for high-resolution analysis of thin films and nanoparticles and enables determination of crystal-structural properties in temperature range from 12 – 1450 K. Using scanning and transmission electron microscopy and the corresponding microanalytical techniques, like energy- and wavelength-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy we analyze microstructure of samples, ranging from microscopic grains to the atomic level, as well as their chemical properties. In addition to the mass losses and thermal effects we also analyze type of evolved gases using advanced thermal analysis systems. Research on sintering of the ceramic samples is assisted with the optical microscope and the optical dilatometer.Electrical properties of as-prepared materials are analyzed using LCR meter and the network analyzer in a broad frequency (from 20 Hz to 67 GHz) and temperature range (from -170 to 600°C). Materials are also characterized using the ferroelectric test system for hysteresis loop measurements and the systems for electrical and mechanical tunability measurements.