This grant provides funding to explore the advantages and investigate the fundamental limitations of a novel electrochemical process for alloy film formation, with the objective to assess its viability as a practical manufacturing technology. This process exploits the energy released upon alloy formation to predict the conditions under which a film with a predetermined composition and structure is obtained. Theoretically, this process provides complete control over material formation, but in manufacturing environments the predictive capabilities of this method are limited by the need to achieve sufficiently fast production rates. Experiments with a set of binary alloys will therefore quantify how and to what extent practical production rates will affect the theoretical predictions, ideally providing correction terms that will enable one to maintain process control under practical manufacturing conditions. Fast production rates also hinder the direct synthesis of complex crystal structures of technological interest; formation of such structures will be therefore investigated by tailoring the synthesis conditions, to inhibit the formation of alternative structures. Finally, this process will be extended to alloy materials composed of three elements.

If successful, the results of this research will strongly impact current practices in manufacturing processes utilizing alloy films, in particular microfabrication processes, by providing a robust and precise method for the synthesis of new materials, using procedures characterized by low cost and low energetic impact. In particular, new processes for the formation of platinum- and palladium-based alloys will be made available, which may provide enhanced performance in magnetic or energy conversion devices. Other potential benefits include a simplification of current manufacturing processes and the development of new device concepts that may exploit materials made available through this research.

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University of Virginia
United States
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