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Materials (Basel). 2018 Jun 23;11(7). pii: E1066. doi: 10.3390/ma11071066.

Pair Distribution Function Analysis of ZrO₂ Nanocrystals and Insights in the Formation of ZrO₂-YBa₂Cu₃O₇ Nanocomposites.

Author information

1
Sol-gel Centre for Research on Inorganic Powders and Thin films Synthesis (SCRiPTS), Department of Chemistry, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281-S3, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Hannes.Rijckaert@ugent.be.
2
Sol-gel Centre for Research on Inorganic Powders and Thin films Synthesis (SCRiPTS), Department of Chemistry, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281-S3, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Jonathan.DeRoo@ugent.be.
3
Sol-gel Centre for Research on Inorganic Powders and Thin films Synthesis (SCRiPTS), Department of Chemistry, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281-S3, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Matthias.VanZele@ugent.be.
4
Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, 1105 S.W. Mudd, New York, NY 10027, USA. sb3519@columbia.edu.
5
Wihuri Physical Laboratory, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland. Hannu.Huhtinen@utu.fi.
6
Wihuri Physical Laboratory, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland. Petriina.Paturi@utu.fi.
7
BASF SE, Advanced Materials & Systems Research, Carl-Bosch-Straße 38, 67056 Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany. Jan.Bennewitz@basf.com.
8
Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, 1105 S.W. Mudd, New York, NY 10027, USA. sb2896@columbia.edu.
9
Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA. sb2896@columbia.edu.
10
Deutsche Nanoschicht GmbH, Heisenbergstraβe 16, 53359 Rheinbach, Germany. Baecker@d-nano.com.
11
Sol-gel Centre for Research on Inorganic Powders and Thin films Synthesis (SCRiPTS), Department of Chemistry, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281-S3, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Klaartje.DeBuysser@ugent.be.
12
Sol-gel Centre for Research on Inorganic Powders and Thin films Synthesis (SCRiPTS), Department of Chemistry, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281-S3, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Isabel.VanDriessche@ugent.be.

Abstract

The formation of superconducting nanocomposites from preformed nanocrystals is still not well understood. Here, we examine the case of ZrO₂ nanocrystals in a YBa₂Cu₃O7−x matrix. First we analyzed the preformed ZrO₂ nanocrystals via atomic pair distribution function analysis and found that the nanocrystals have a distorted tetragonal crystal structure. Second, we investigated the influence of various surface ligands attached to the ZrO₂ nanocrystals on the distribution of metal ions in the pyrolyzed matrix via secondary ion mass spectroscopy technique. The choice of stabilizing ligand is crucial in order to obtain good superconducting nanocomposite films with vortex pinning. Short, carboxylate based ligands lead to poor superconducting properties due to the inhomogeneity of metal content in the pyrolyzed matrix. Counter-intuitively, a phosphonate ligand with long chains does not disturb the growth of YBa₂Cu₃O7−x. Even more surprisingly, bisphosphonate polymeric ligands provide good colloidal stability in solution but do not prevent coagulation in the final film, resulting in poor pinning. These results thus shed light on the various stages of the superconducting nanocomposite formation.

KEYWORDS:

SIMS; YBa2Cu3O7−δ; chemical solution deposition; nanocomposite; nanoparticles; nucleation and growth; superconductor; thin film

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