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Axially Engineered Metal–Insulator Phase Transition by Graded Doping VO2 Nanowires

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journal contribution
posted on 27.03.2013 by Sangwook Lee, Chun Cheng, Hua Guo, Kedar Hippalgaonkar, Kevin Wang, Joonki Suh, Kai Liu, Junqiao Wu
The abrupt first-order metal–insulator phase transition in single-crystal vanadium dioxide nanowires (NWs) is engineered to be a gradual transition by axially grading the doping level of tungsten. We also demonstrate the potential of these NWs for thermal sensing and actuation applications. At room temperature, the graded-doped NWs show metal phase on the tips and insulator phase near the center of the NW, and the metal phase grows progressively toward the center when the temperature rises. As such, each individual NW acts as a microthermometer that can be simply read out with an optical microscope. The NW resistance decreases gradually with the temperature rise, eventually reaching 2 orders of magnitude drop, in stark contrast to the abrupt resistance change in undoped VO2 wires. This novel phase transition yields an extremely high temperature coefficient of resistivity ∼10%/K, simultaneously with a very low resistivity down to 0.001 Ω·cm, making these NWs promising infrared sensing materials for uncooled microbolometers. Lastly, they form bimorph thermal actuators that bend with an unusually high curvature, ∼900 m–1·K–1 over a wide temperature range (35–80 °C), significantly broadening the response temperature range of previous VO2 bimorph actuators. Given that the phase transition responds to a diverse range of stimuliheat, electric current, strain, focused light, and electric fieldthe graded-doped NWs may find wide applications in thermo-opto-electro-mechanical sensing and energy conversion.