Reminiscences on the Discovery of Electrochromic Phenomena in Transition Metal Oxides

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    It has long been known that transition metal oxides of the types WO3, MoO3, TiO2, V2O5, etc., show considerable variation in stoichiometry, and that very often the nonstoichiometric compounds are characterized by strong coloration. This observation led to the fabrication of highly disordered thin films of some of these oxides -- ones that showed strong coloration upon optical excitation. Back inthe 1960s, there was considerable interest in optically bistable phenomena for high-density information recording, and these oxide films were investigated for that purpose. However, the difficulty encountered in the bleaching process led to the proposition that the optically induced color centers could be bleached by an electric field. Subsequent experiments clearly demonstrated that it was notonly possible to form color centers by optical excitation and to bleach them by an electric field, but that it was possible to color and bleach by an electric field alone by simply reversing the polarity. This constituted the first successful demonstration of electrochromic phenomena in thin films of transition metal oxides. This was quickly followed by the development of various innovativedevice structures for practical application. In this article, an attempt will be made to reminisce the discovery of the electrochromic phenomena in this type of material, ultimately leading to the current state of this technology.
    Original languageAmerican English
    Pages (from-to)191-201
    Number of pages11
    JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
    Issue number2-4
    StatePublished - 1995

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/JA-451-7462


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