Voltage Programmable Materials


Applications for this technology include electrically controllable catalysts for the chemical industry, voltage-controlled low-power magnetic memories, and voltage-controlled optical switches. Some additional applications of this technology allow for the creation of environmentally-responsive materials, low cost sensors, and lab-on-a-chip systems.

Problem Addressed

Current techniques for nano-fabrication of materials- annealing, particle bombardment, and plasma exposure - are able to change material properties; however, these processes are difficult to control and are non-reversible. In addition, these current techniques do not allow for spatial control of the material properties. This invention allows for a highly manipulative and completely reversible nano-fabrication platform.


This invention has a multi-layer architecture, which contains a central bi-layer material sandwiched between metal electrodes. The bi-layer is comprised of the target material to be electronically modified, and a functional material with mobile ionic species. The application of an electric field across the structure of the device causes the ionic species within the functional material to affect the chemical composition of the thin target layer and change its properties. Additionally, a “write head” may be used to control the local voltage or temperature, allowing for spatially-varying material properties.


  • Permits post-synthesis modification of nano-materials
  • Reversible
  • Ability to create spatially-varying material properties