Development of novel materials has been leading the basic research on condensed matter and the expansion of new territories for technological application in recent years. Subjects including development of high-temperature superconductors and application of monolayer atomic crystals, e.g., graphene, to devices are all closely related to the progression of condensed-matter physics and to the technological revolution in the future. The development and research of novel materials, therefore, cast unlimited influence upon the economic development in Taiwan and the future of mankind. The key to the advancement of research on materials is the capability to provide single crystals with special characteristics for basic research and thin-film epitaxy or single layer crystals that can be fabricated into devices with special functions. Technologically advanced countries have established large permanent research institutes to actively devote themselves to crystal growth, such as certain national laboratories under the United States Department of Energy (including Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory), and National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Japan. Some independent laboratories with mature conditions at prestigious universities, including certain Max Plank Institutes in Germany and Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, are sponsored and coordinated by national research budgets. In order to integrate the novel-material development, single crystal growth, and thin film fabrication across Taiwan, the first research team on the national level, Taiwan Consortium of Emergent Crystalline Materials (TCECM), was established on May 2, 2012, with the financial support from “Priority Projects” operated by National Science Council under the Executive Yuan.
TCECM consists of the most outstanding teams in Taiwan that specialize materials research and development. Fields covered by the consortium include development of novel materials (which is crucial to material research), growth of single crystals, and preparation of epitaxial thin film. The consortium aims to develop itself into a national and sustainable team including experts and crucial core facilities to reinforce medium to long-term techniques of novel-material fabrication and R&D, facilitate the advancement of materials-related technology, and spur economic growth. It expects to gradually expand its responsibilities and influence into the basic research of condensed-matter physics through medium to long-term support; furthermore, it hopes to acquire new opportunities to develop novel materials and create innovative techniques. In the early phase of the execution of “Priority Projects” from 2008 to 2012, five university laboratories with different specialties across Taiwan were integrated into TCECM. The principal investigators of TCECM include: (1) Fang-Cheng Chou, research fellow at the Center for Condensed Matter Sciences, National Taiwan University, specializing in material design and synthesis and single crystal growth; (2) Chun-Wei Chen, distinguished professor at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, National Taiwan University, specializing in graphene monolayer atomic crystals; (3) Wu-Ching Chou, professor at the Department of Electrophysics, National Chiao Tung University, specializing in novel thin-film materials and devices; (4) Ying-Hao Chu, professor at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, National Chiao Tung University, specializing in fabrication of functional thin-film epitaxial oxide, and (5) Ming-Chi Chou, professor at the Department of Materials and Optoelectronic Science, National Sun Yat-sen University, specializing in single crystal growth. The united laboratory of TCECM has integrated current projects’ equipment, research personnel, and research goals into a mutually shared and closely interactive platform of collaboration and communication. In doing so, the consortium expects to utilize the budgets invested in the development of material physics in a more efficient and more influential fashion in order to enhance current techniques for the fabrication and analysis of materials and expand the width and depth of subject design of material physics. The technical enhancement and the scale expansion will accelerate the R&D of novel materials and induce more breakthroughs in related physical research. Therefore, with the progress made by TCECM, the R&D of novel materials in Taiwan will be more competent to meet the requirements of international competitions and developmental trends in this area.
The main project’s primary goal for the development of the consortium from 2008 to 2013 was to establish a core facility for crystal growth. The consortium had accumulated sufficient energy to the growth of novel crystalline materials during this period. The project entered the second phase in 2014, wherein the consortium took up the new primary mission to develop and fabricate novel crystalline materials. In this phase, the idea to build a platform was introduced into the main project, the strategic layout was rearranged, and the framework of the original project was updated. In addition to Project “Crystal Growth Service,” elements such as “academic research” and “applied research” were also included in the hope of effectively incorporating the most competent talents in the field of condensed matter physics in Taiwan. From 2014 to 2016, the consortium increased the number of its core teams from five to twenty-one, vitalizing the connection for collaboration between “crystal growth—academic research” and “crystal growth—application.” In this phase, not only did collaboration between novel crystal teams occur, but regional and national connection between scholars and experts interested in novel crystals yet not able to participate in the project also took place in an exciting way. These interactions produced brilliant results for research and application. In the future, TCECM will further integrate current large equipment in Taiwan including synchrotron radiation equipment, neutron scattering equipment, and electron microscopes; it will also collaborate with theoretical scientists. With these efforts, TCECM hopes to build a research team studying the advanced materials with features of Taiwan and create a Taiwanese brand in this professional field on the world stage with the idea of Materials@Taiwan.
新穎材料開發近年來引領著凝態基礎研究乃至科技運用新領域的拓展，例如高溫超導體的開發，石墨烯單層原子晶體在元件上的應用，都與凝態物理的進步與未來科技革命息息相關。新穎材料的開發與研究因此對台灣經濟發展與人類的未來有無可限量的影響力。材料研究進展之關鍵在於能夠提供基礎研究之單晶，尤其能夠提供特殊性質之單晶，以及能夠製備為特殊功能性元件使用之薄膜磊晶或單層晶體。國際科技領先國家均有大型常設研究機構積極投入晶體成長，例如美國能源部旗下之國家實驗室（Argonne與 Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory等）與日本國家材料研究院 (National Institute for Materials Science, NIMS)，或直接由國家研究經費統籌聯合重點大學中已具備成熟條件之獨立實驗室，如德國Max-Planck Institutes 與法國CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) 機構等。為整合台灣新穎材料開發，單晶成長與薄膜製備，由行政院國科會「優先推動計畫」經費支持下，於101年5月2日正式成立第一個國家級「尖端晶體材料聯合實驗室」團隊 (Taiwan Consortium of Emergent Crystalline Materials, TCECM)。
「尖端晶體材料聯合實驗室」為國內具備材料研發專長且表現特出之團隊組成，包括了材料研究不可或缺之新材料開發，單晶成長，薄膜磊晶成長等領域，預期發展成一國家級永續經營之專家團隊及系統關鍵核心設施，以加強中長程尖端材料製備實驗技術與研究開發，帶動材料相關科技與經濟發展。期許經由全力中長程扶植並逐漸擴大其責任與影響力，不僅深入凝態物理基礎研究，更同時獲得開創國內尖端材料與新技術之發展新契機。計畫執行初期，於97-101年間，跨校組合『尖端晶體材料聯合實驗室』，由全國五處不同專長之實驗室擴大橫向發展整合而成。主持人包括：(1) 專長於新材料開發與研究用單晶成長之國立台灣大學凝態中心周方正研究員；(2) 專長於石墨烯單層原子晶體研究之台灣大學材料系陳俊維教授；(3) 專長於尖端薄膜材料元件研究之交通大學電物系周武清教授；(4) 專長於功能性氧化物薄膜磊晶製備之交通大學材料系朱英豪助理教授，以及(5) 專長於特殊單晶成長之中山大學材料與光電科學系周明奇教授。聯合實驗室將現有之計畫設備、研究人員、以及分項研發目標加以整合，融合成一共享、緊密互動的交流合作平台，以期對材料物理發展方面所投入經費作更有效、影響層面更廣泛之運用，提升現有之材料製備、材料分析技術以及物理課題設計之廣度與深度，使得新材料開發速度加快、相關物理研究更具突破性，以因應國際競爭對此方面之發展趨勢需求。