Faculty Directory
Thomas Mason

Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering


2220 Campus Drive
Cook Hall 2036; Office - Cook 3037
Evanston, IL 60208

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The Mason Group


Materials Science and Engineering

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Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering, MIT, Cambridge, MA

B.S. Ceramic Science, Penn State, University Park, PA

Research Interests

Structure-Property Relationships in Electroceramics          

Our group investigates fundamental structure-property relationships in technologically important electroceramics, including transparent conducting oxides (TCOs), transparent oxide semiconductors (TOSs), ionic ceramics, and mixed ionic/electronic ceramics (MIECs).  Our work addresses the development of electroceramics for energy-conversion systems, such as photovoltaics and fuel cells.

The rare combination of optical transparency and high electronic mobility is found in oxides of a select group of metals (e.g., Zn, In, Sn).  TCOs serve as transparent electrodes in a wide range of applications, from flat panel displays to solar cells.  More recently, their semiconducting analogues (TOSs) are being employed as active elements in flexible and transparent thin film transistors.  In both cases, we investigate their underlying defect chemistry and how this governs transparent semiconductivity and conductivity.  An exciting new area of research involves amorphous forms of TCO and TOS materials.

High ionic conductivity is required for advanced electrochemical systems, e.g., batteries and fuel cells. We are investigating the role of nanocrystallinity in the transport properties of “nano-ionics” as electrolytes for such applications. In particular, owing to enhanced grain boundary transport, nano-ionics may enable lower operating temperatures than currently available with state-of-the-art solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). MIECs combine both ionic and electronic conductivity, and see application as SOFC electrodes.Our research addresses the role of grain boundaries in the transport properties of both nano-MIEC and nano-ionic materials.

Our group is developing models and methods for characterizing the grain core vs. grain boundary properties of nanoceramics.  We employ AC-impedance spectroscopy (AC-IS) and our newly developed “nano-Grain Composite Model” to separate local electrical/dielectric properties of technologically important electroceramics.

The Mason group is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. We are also active in the Materials Research Science & Engineering Center (MRSEC) and in two Energy Frontier Research Centers—ANSER (Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research) Center, dealing with organic photovoltaics (employing oxide transparent electrodes), and the Center for Inverse Design, dealing with all-inorganic thin film photovoltaics.

Significant Recognition

  • Fellow, ACerS
  • Fulrath-Pacific Award, ACerS, 1994
  • Schwartzwalder-PACE Award, AcerS, 1990
  • Highly Cited Scientist, ISI Web of Science

Significant Professional Service

  • Member, International Academy of Ceramics
  • Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, 2001-2004

Selected Publications

  • Mason, T.O.; Perry, N.H.; Nagaraja, A.R.; Tang, Y.; Grayson, M., “Band or Polaron: The Hole Conduction Mechanism in the p-Type Spinel Rh2ZnO4”, Journal of the American Ceramic Society, (2011)
  • QM Zhu;EM Hopper;BJ Ingram;TO Mason, “Combined Jonker and Ioffe Analysis of Oxide Conductors and Semiconductors”, Journal of the American Ceramic Society, (2011)
  • NH Perry;TC Yeh;TO Mason, “Temperature Dependence of Effective Grain Core/Single Crystal Dielectric Constants for Acceptor-Doped Oxygen Ion Conductors”, Journal of the American Ceramic Society, (2011)
  • Mason, T.O.; Perry, N.H.; Nagaraja, A.R.; Paudel, T.R.; Lany, S., “Asymmetric cation nonstoichiometry in spinels: Site occupancy in Co_ ${$2$}$ ZnO_ ${$4$}$ and Rh_ ${$2$}$ ZnO_ ${$4$}$”, Physical Review B, (2011)
  • Harvey, S.P.; Mason, T.O.; K\örber, C.; Klein, A.; Wachau, A., “Transparent Conducting Oxides for Photovoltaics: Manipulation of Fermi Level, Work Function and Energy Band Alignment”, Materials, (2010)
  • DL PROFFIT;GR BAI;DD FONG;TT FISTER;SO HRUSZKEWYCZ;MJ HIGHLAND;PM BALDO;PH FUOSS;TO MASON;JA EASTMAN, “Phase stabilization of delta-Bi2O3 nanostructures by epitaxial growth onto single crystal SrTiO3 or DyScO3 substrates”, Applied Physics Letters, (2010)
  • CA HOEL;TO MASON;JF GAILLARD;KR POEPPELMEIER, “Transparent Conducting Oxides in the ZnO-In2O3-SnO2 System”, Chemistry of Materials, (2010)
  • TO Mason, SP Harvey, KR Poeppelmeier, “Ternary and Multinary Materials: Crystal/Defect Structure?Property Relationships”, Handbook of Transparent ..., (2010)
  • NH PERRY;TO MASON, “Grain core and grain boundary electrical/dielectric properties of yttria-doped tetragonal zirconia polycrystal (TZP) nanoceramics”, Solid State Ionics, (2010)
  • SP Harvey, TO Mason, C Körber, A Klein, “Bulk defect chemistry and surface electronic behavior of Zn, Sn codoped In2O3 transparent conducting oxides”, PCCP. Physical chemistry ..., (2009)