Almost all systems to be investigated in the Interface Research Areas outlined above will make use of inorganic materials (in particular semiconductors and metals) as integral components with specific e-conversion functions such as charge transport or separation, optical absorption, plasmonic enhancement and (photo-)catalytic activity.
Thus, the central scientific objectives of the RA Foundry Inorganic will be (i) the provision and further development of state-of-the-art semiconducting materials with well-defined and designed doping levels, band gap engineering and surface/interface properties serving as model systems, (ii) the realization and optimization of new, hitherto unexplored materials systems with complementary properties as potential alternatives for established inorganic materials (including ionic conductors), and (iii) the top-down or bottom-up micro- and nanostructuring of inorganic materials and of organic/inorganic hybrids for the development of systems/devices with tunable dimensionality, surface properties and sizes/distances at the nm-scale to control and enhance specific e-conversion processes. In addition to these advancements in the preparation and optimization of novel inorganic materials of different dimensions, RA Foundry Inorganic will also apply and further develop advanced experimental methods for the characterization and the nano-sculpting of materials.
These are a key ingredient for developing a thorough understanding of the complex structure-property relationships operational in e-conversion systems – both in model structures and in complete devices. Members of the cluster have leading roles in the development and application of operando transmission electron microscopy, synchrotron techniques and neutron scattering, allowing for comprehensive atomistic and morphological characterization of complex material systems under relevant operating conditions. Highly defined nano-structuring will be based on state-of-the-art techniques such as e-beam lithography, nano-imprinting, focused-ion-beam milling, or He-ion lithography and microscopy. All these activities will and have to be performed in close collaboration with and continuous feedback from the interface research areas and the RA Foundry Organic. It is expected that novel materials and structures developed in the RA Foundry Inorganic will strongly influence the research focus of the other Research Areas in the medium and long term.