The “multiple-sample concept” in materials research: Synthesis, compositional analysis and testing of entire multicomponent systems
This paper questions the efficiency of the present approach to the search for new materials which consists of studying only one composition at a time. A new concept of materials research is introduced which consists of synthesising, analysing, testing and evaluating of large parts of multicomponent systems in single steps. Implementation of this concept has been possible through the development of a one-cathode, multiple-target, radio-frequency co-sputtering method of synthesis and of a novel, simple method of compositional analysis of any co-sputtered film, based on film thickness measurements. An example is given of the use of such an approach in studying new binary super-conducting compositions, which resulted in a thirty-fold increase in the rate of finding new materials. A several hundred-fold increase in research productivity is predicted for higher-component systems.
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