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National Research Program of Latvia in Materialsciences (2005 - 2009)
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Development of advanced functional materials for microelectronics, nanoelectronics, photonics, biomedicine and constructional composites, as well as related technologies

Priority scientific area: materials science – nanotechnologies for acquisition of functional materials, composite materials of new generation.

Director of the programme: Dr. habil. phys. Andris Šternbergs, Institute of Solid State Physics, University of Latvia.

Programme implementation period: 2005–2009

Programme implementers: Institute of Solid State Physics of the University of Latvia, Institute of Physics of the University of Latvia, Institute of Polymer Mechanics of the University of Latvia, University of Latvia, Riga Technical University, Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of the Riga Technical University, Riga Stradiņš University, Daugavpils University, Institute of Physical Energy, Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis.

The aim of the programme is creation of prerequisites for production of science-intensive products with high added value – nanomaterials, nanocomposites and constructional composites of new generation – for Latvian and global market, using original technologies for production

of these materials.

Projects within the programme:

  • Perspective inorganic materials for photonics and energetics;
  • Perspective inorganic materials for optoelectronics and microelectronics and advanced methods in structure research;
  • Materials for photonics and nanoelectronics based on new functional lowmolecular and high-molecular organic compounds;
  • Perspective biomaterials and medical technologies;
  • Development of nanoparticles, nanostructural materials and thin-film technologies for creation of functional materials and composites;
  • Design of functional materials/nanocomposites, development of technologies and properties thereof;
  • Ensuring participation of Latvian scientists in ERA-Net programme MATERA within the European Union Sixth Framework Programme;
  • Functional materials for resistive switching memory;
  • Modelling dynamics of adaptive multifunctional materials and structures.

Within the programme different important studies have been conducted, with the results divided across different areas of application, e.g. in electronics, photonics, biomedicine and other fields.

Applications in electronics: successfully conducted solid surface field studies by using high-resolution atomic spectroscopy methods, with the results applicable in sensitive magnetometers that allow detection of magnetic field in nanometre areas and in adaptive optic elements. DNA injection via a needle coated with nanoporous anodised aluminium oxide has been performed and transfer of DNA from one microglobule to another has been demonstrated. This provides further opportunities for miniaturisation of optoelectronic and microelectronic devices. Alx-Ga1-xN thin films with high Al concentration have been created. Their electrical and optic properties have been determined thus providing good preconditions for the design of high-frequency high-mobility transistors.

Applications in photonics: modification of surface (appearance of spatial relief) of amorphous halcogenide films and polymer films with azobenzene derivatives under impact of laser radiation during holographic recording. By improving the related technologies it is possible to produce devices with a holographic diffraction grating. For the first time spectral properties of oxygen bond scission in the deep ultraviolet spectrum area of glassy SiO2 material, which allows reviewing the presently valid findings regarding the reasons of causing reduction of glass permeability due to impact of ultraviolet laser radiation (solarisation). Changes in the composition of gases in electrode-free lamps made of SiO2 glass have been studied and formation of OH groups in the interaction of the oxygen in the glass walls with the gas discharge plasma and ultraviolet radiation has been shown. The results of the studies of spectral parameters of the radiation of electrode-free lamps containing helium, argon and hydrogen and the results of the studies of interior surfaces of the lamp will allow development of better spectral radiation sources for analytical or industrial applications.

Applications in energetics: models developed as a result of theoretical research allow understanding of imbalance processes in such important devices as Libatteries, fuel cells, ceramic membranes. A system of hetero-transitions of organic materials photosensitive within a wide spectrum of energy has been obtained, which can be used for the development of light sensors and organic solar elements after optimisation of its composition and electrodes. By changing the thermal processing of the transparent ZnO coatings fine-grained coatings and coatings with needle-like structure have been obtained, the application of which is perspective for use with both solar cells, in optoelectronics and sensor technologies.

Applications in sensor technology: zinc and zirconium oxides have been studied in the form of single crystals and nanocrystals and it has been demonstrated that zirconium nanocrystals can be used as an active material for the design of an oxygen sensor. An extremely fast (sub)nanosecond luminescence in activated zinc oxide nanocrystals has been observed, which can be developed further for the design of fast scintillators in x-ray visualisation systems and radiation gauges.

Applications in biomedicine: implants with specifically oriented pore structure have been produced to increase bioactivity. The developed porous ceramic has been tested in vitro and in vivo medicine infiltration for the development of medicine-modified implants. Diagnostic potential in skin pathology assessment has been developed for two methods.

Composite applications in technology: technologies for the production of nanocomposites of biologically degradable modified starch/nonmodified layered silicate montmorillonite type of different composition in laboratory conditions have been developed . Technologies of nanocomposite extraction and production of certain products based on use of Latvian nature resources have been developed. It has been established that due to the intercalated nanocomposite structure the elasticity module and tensile stress increase several times already at a low content of nanofilling. Under the impact of the formation of a specific coplanar structure, the barrier properties of the studied nanocomposites increase considerably.

Quantum interference from carbon nanotubes as a new, perspective quantum information processing device has been modelled for the first time.

Within the programme the immersion holographic record method has been worked out, allowing recording holographic grids with a very small (50 nm) period, and effective luminescent detector materials of new type have been designed for use in determining the oxygen amounts. Furthermore, a new optic memory device of a greater capacity, consisting of several thin films of tungstate has been developed. Properties of strontium titanate surfaces have also been studied, allowing considerable improvement of operation of information processing devices, and new organic materials have been designed for direct recording of surface relief holograms in the red part of the spectrum.

In addition to the research work, extensive labour has been contributed to considerable improvement of the experimental infrastructure of the programme, utilising the project financing in combination with the opportunities provided by the structural funds. This allowed improving the quality of research and student/doctoral student training and bringing the experimental capacity of the involved laboratories nearer to the level required for successful cooperation with manufacturers.

A number of manufacturers, the Joint Stock Company Sidrabe, limited liability companies GroGlass, Evopipes, Baltijas Gumijas fabrika, the Joint Stock Company Latvijas Dzelzceļš and state organisations, e.g. Latvian Association of Road Carriers, among others have already expressed interest in the programme achievements in the field of development of innovative nanocomposites (nanostructured composite materials of thermoplastic matrix with improved barrier and resistance deformation properties, pressure and steam sensors).

The themes developed within the programme have provided a basis for launch of several international cooperation projects, the functional material studies and developments having been included, among others, in ERA-NET MATERA, MATERA+ and EURATOM projects in which scientists from Latvia also participate.


Information from Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia booklet