Review on the growth, properties and applications of self-assembled oxide–metal vertically aligned nanocomposite thin films—current and future perspectives
Self-assembled oxide–metal nanocomposite thin films have aroused great research interest owing to their wide range of functionalities, including metamaterials with plasmonic and hyperbolic optical properties, and ferromagnetic, ferroelectric and multiferroic behaviors. Oxide–metal nanocomposites typically self-assemble as metal particles in an oxide matrix or as a vertically aligned nanocomposite (VAN) with metal nanopillars embedded in an oxide matrix. Among them, the VAN architecture is particularly interesting due to the vertical strain control and highly anisotropic structure, enabling the epitaxial growth of materials with large lattice mismatch. In this review, the driving forces behind the formation of self-assembled oxide–metal VAN structures are discussed. Specifically, an updated in-plane strain compensation model based on the areal strain compensation concept has been proposed in this review, inspired by the prior linear strain compensation model. It provides a guideline for material selection for designing VAN systems, especially those involving complex orientation matching relationships. Based on the model, several case studies are discussed, comparing the microstructure and morphology of different oxide–metal nanocomposites by varying the oxide phase. Specific examples highlighting the coupling between the electrical, magnetic and optical properties are also discussed in the context of oxide–metal nanocomposites. Future research directions and needs are also discussed.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Review Articles