The recently discovered orthorhombic allotrope of silicon, Si24, is an exciting prospective material for the future of solar energy due to a quasi-direct bandgap near 1.3 eV, coupled with the abundance and environmental stability of silicon. Synthesized via precursor Na4Si24 at high temperature and pressure (∼850 °C, 9 GPa), typical synthesis results have yielded polycrystalline samples with crystallites on the order of 20 μm. Several approaches to increase the crystal size have yielded success, including in-situ thermal spikes and refined selection of the starting materials. Microstructural analysis suggests that coherency exists between diamond silicon (d-Si) and Na4Si24. This hypothesis has led to the successful attempts at single crystal synthesis by selecting large crystals of d-Si along with metallic Na as the precursors rather than powdered and mixed precursor material. The new synthesis approach has yielded single crystals of Na4Si24 greater than 100 μm. These results represent a breakthrough in synthesis that enables further characterization and utility. The promise of Si24 for the future of solar energy generation and efficient electronics is strengthened through these advances in synthesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering