Nanostructure characteristics of ferroics and bio-ferroics in relation to the design consideration of nano-sensing elements
The shift of the epicenter in the field of science and technology to the nano-world has become evident over the past couple of decades with the emergence of areas likes nanoscience, nanotechnology, nano-biotechnology, etc. Though the size of the devices has decreased, the capability of devices has increased rendering it as 'multifunctional/smart' devices. However the design of smart devices using a single phase material has reached to its limit, hence to make further progress "smart materials" are required. Sensors/actuators are mostly fabricated with popular ferroic materials (ferroelectric/ ferromagnetic/ ferroelastic) or multiferroics (having more than one ferroic property). Multifunctionality can be the outcome of heterogeneous systems with cross-coupled properties, intrinsic as well as extrinsic, and hence modeling of smart materials with high figure of merit is also needed. Most ideas in smart sensing and actuation have been borrowed from the biological systems thus a step further is indeed to combine the engineering with the fundamental biological activities. Not only can we use multiferroic materials in artificial transplants, but we should also investigate ferroic activities in the biological samples. These fundamental issues, their possible solutions and their wide impact underlie the motivation of the current work in this thesis report. To achieve the ultimate goal, the steps outlined were followed: i. understanding the properties of sensing elements of inorganic and biomaterials at nanoscale level, ii. investigation of the multiferroicity, iii. modeling engineered material with better sensing capabilities iv. Finally exploiting the new concepts for device and biomedical applications. The findings of this thesis reports multiferroic behavior in a selected class of single crystals, thin films and bulk materials. Human nails and hair samples have been investigated for ferroelectricity and a comprehensive study concludes the presence of bio-ferroelectricity. Bio-ceramic for potential bone replacement has been characterized for its electrical properties and evidence has been given for its suitability. Initiation of modeling of material with high figure of merit for pyroelectric applications has been done which provides a platform to tailor its boundary conditions, interplay of interfaces to obtain meta-property. A broader impact of this thesis was to come forth with ideas to medical diagnostics and health monitoring combining and enhancing the understanding of multiferroics at macro to nano level, modeling of efficient heterogeneous material system, science of bio-materials and applications of bio-ceramics.