Duplication earns retraction for nanomaterials paper that had already been corrected

Applied_Physics_Letters_cover_imageAfter earning an erratum shortly after publication in 2009, a paper in Applied Physics Letters has now been retracted for the “regrettable mistake” of duplicating an earlier paper by the researchers.

Here’s the notice for “Broadband and omnidirectional antireflection from conductive indium-tin-oxide nanocolumns prepared by glancing-angle deposition with nitrogen:”

The authors wish to retract this paper 1 due to overlap of content with their previously published paper in 2including duplicated SEM images and measurement data. The regrettable mistake was a result of mishandling of experimental data with high resemblance. For that, the authors apologize to the readers and the editorial office of  for any confusion caused.

Here’s the text from the erratum, which involved the same figures:

In the published version of Fig. 2 , the data were mistaken from the sample presented in Ref. 1 . The correct figure is given below with corresponding SEM images (Figs. 1(a) and 1(b) ). This does not change any of our results. The authors apologize to the readers of Applied Physics Letters for any confusion that this might have caused.

The paper cited in the retraction was originally published in Advanced Materials. Here’s the abstract:

Highly-oriented indium tin oxide nanocolumns are prepared by glancing-angle deposition with nitrogen. The tapered column profiles, which function as a graded-refractive-index layer, offer superior antireflective characteristics. The nanostructured material serves as the conductive antireflective layer for GaAs solar cells, demonstrating a viable efficiency-boosting strategy for next-generation photovoltaics.

And the abstract of the retracted paper, which has been cited 45 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge:

Characteristic formation of highly oriented indium-tin-oxide (ITO) nanocolumns is demonstrated using electron-beam evaporation with an obliquely incident nitrogen flux. The nanocolumn material exhibits broadband and omnidirectional antireflective characteristics up to an incidence angle of 70° for the 350–900 nm wavelength range for both s– and p-polarizations. Calculations based on a rigorous coupled-wave analysis indicate that the superior antireflection arises from the tapered column profiles which collectively function as a gradient-index layer. Since the nanocolumns have a preferential growth direction which follows the incident vapor flux, the azimuthal and polarization dependence of reflectivities are also investigated. The single ITO nanocolumn layer can function as antireflection contacts for light emitting diodes and solar cells.

Corresponding author Peichen Yu declined to comment.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

5 thoughts on “Duplication earns retraction for nanomaterials paper that had already been corrected”

  1. Peichen Yu. You can refuse to answer. That is your right. But please do the scientific community a favor and clean up the 45 references that are now tainted by your academic irreesponsibility and/or oversight. To be clear, please contact the editors-in-chief, journal and publishers of these 45 citations and indicate to them that your paper was retracted and that you are requesting an erratum to be published. The wording could be something like “Dear Editor-in-Chief, Journal ABC, I wish to draw your attention to a paper of mine that was retracted from Applied Physics Letters because of duplication-related issues. This retracted paper has been included in the reference list of paper XYZ of authors DEF. The study thus does not exist in the literature any longer. I extend my sincerest apologies to the readers of your jorunal, to the pubisher, and the scientific community.” I think this is the least you could do to clean up your mess.

  2. The retraction was published 8 months later after the erratum, which is strange. What happened?
    Why the authors declined to admit the duplication in the first place?

  3. Duplication in Physics does not always lead to retraction, it seems. See this note


    to the following two articles:

    EPJ Web of Conferences 17, 06005 (2011), DOI: 10.1051/epjconf/20111706005
    EPJ Web of Conferences 21, 01002 (2012), DOI: 10.1051/epjconf/20122101002

    The two articles are clearly duplicates. However, two to three years after their publication the authors have issued a “note” that describes how the reader should read or understand those articles.

  4. Looking into Peichen Yu’s website, she earned a lot of trophies, including the biggest young scientist award in Taiwan. It is a shame that Taiwan government supports the professor for these activities instead of punishment.

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