Creating new materials landscapes: an unexpected new cubic alloy

This work breaks new ground for creating new materials landscapes by showing that conventional criteria and routes to synthesis are neither followed nor required. We show this for Ge-Sn, a system actively investigated for optoelectronic applications to overcome conventional cubic Si's deficiencies.

The group IVA column of elements (C, Si, Ge, Sn, Pb) occupies a foremost position in the periodic table. The cubic diamond structure is a prominent contributor to this position, as exemplified by super-hard cubic C and through cubic Si, the material driver of the electronics industry. Si however is inefficient in converting sunlight to electricity and is hence deficient for optoelectronic applications. The Ge-Sn system is intensely investigated in this regard to overcome cubic Si’s inadequacies.

George Serghiou in the School of Engineering together with colleagues from the School of Geosciences and three other leading Research Institutions in Germany and France have removed barriers to reactivity and synthesized a new bulk cubic material, GeSn. For this, conventional routes to synthesis were neither followed nor required.

Showing that this cubic material is made without adherence to established criteria, creates fertile new avenues for exploring and exploiting new materials development from semiconductors to metals. The new alloy stable at pressure is itself a fountainhead for production on pressure release of a range of crystal structures with optoelectronic potential currently being investigated.

The work published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition in 2021 is spotlighted internationally by (i) ESRF, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France, a joint research facility supported by 22 countries and (ii) DESY, Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron, a National Research Centre in Germany.

International recognition of the work

Principal publication and authors

An unexpected cubic symmetry in group IV alloys prepared using pressure and temperature, G. Serghiou (a), H.J. Reichmann (b), N. Odling (c), K. Spektor (d), A. Pakhomova (e), W. Crichton (d), Z. Konôpková (e), Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2021);

Further information

Engineering of chemicals