Oxide materials might form the basis for the next technological revolutions in fields such as electronics, photovoltaics or heterogeneous catalysis by enabling the production of inexpensive, high capacity and fast nonvolatile memories, neuromorphic computers and control systems, and efficient energy conversion devices. All these possible applications have in common that they promise to expand the limits of existing technologies by exploiting the inherent material-level complexity of oxides. However, the enhanced opportunities of this added complexity come at the price of significantly greater difficulties in understanding the materials' properties and their implications. Among many, the peculiar and variable mixture of ionic and covalent bonding behavior and the relative ease of changing the oxygen content of many compounds lead to fascinating effects. Furthermore, a deep level of understanding of the materials properties and their relation to synthesis is crucial for eventual applications. In recent years, an enormous amount of work has been devoted to the development of new experimental and theoretical tools, which have enabled much improved understanding of oxide behavior. Materials science is now becoming able to predict and engineer the behavior of oxide materials and explore brave new worlds of functionality.
The recent advances in functional oxide science and technology prompted us to hold the CECAM workshop on “Functional Oxides for Emerging Technologies” at the Bremen Center for Computational Materials Science in October 2013, and it was during the preparation for this workshop that the Focus Issue on functional oxides was conceived.
The three Review@RRL articles introduce the reader to innovative, low energy electron microscopy , controllable electric conduction at oxide interfaces , and ionic switching based RRAM . The 20 original Letters present exciting new research on the topics of transport properties , super-reducible oxides , ferroelectricity , point defects , memory applications [8–10], bulk properties [11–14], interfaces [15–17], surfaces [18–20] and catalytic properties [21–23].
We sincerely hope that you will find our collection of articles from the forefront of functional oxide research to be informative and that reading our Focus Issue inspires you to come up with more and even better ideas and insights. (© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)