ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY

Scientists have uncovered crystal-amorphous hybrid structures at the sublattice scale


Formation of ordered-disordered nested structures at the sublattice scale Image source: Research team

Combining the respective advantages of crystalline and amorphous states by creating hybrid structures has always been an ideal goal pursued by materials scientists. The team of Lv Xujie, a researcher at the Beijing High Voltage Scientific Research Center (HPSTAR), used pressure regulation to observe the crystal-amorphous hybrid state at the sublattice scale of a single material for the first time. The study was published in Nature Communications on August 9.

Depending on whether the atomic arrangement is long-range periodic, solids can generally be divided into crystalline and amorphous states. The different arrangements and interactions between atoms make crystalline and amorphous materials exhibit different physical and chemical properties. Crystalline and amorphous materials have their own advantages, how to obtain crystal-amorphous hybrid materials to integrate the structure and properties of these two states is the key to understanding their internal interaction mechanism, but also an important direction for the design and development of new materials.

“The composite research of crystalline and amorphous structures on the macroscopic and mesoscopic scales has made great progress, while hybrid structures at the more microscopic scales will have more intrinsic characteristics, and despite the greater challenges, we still need to explore and discover.” “To this end, we propose a strategy to adjust the chemical bond hierarchy of crystals, which will make it possible to design hybrid structures based on different subcrystalline lattices,” Lu said. ”

Based on this design idea, the research team selected the compound Cu12Sb4S13 with a reinforcement bond hierarchy, and used pressure to adjust the bonding level to obtain an ordered-disordered nested structure composed of self-filled amorphous Cuji sublattice “viscera” and a solid crystal frame. “Through crystal structure and chemical bonding analysis, we found that the solitary pair of electrons of Sb cations plays an important role. The strong electrostatic repulsion of the isolated pair of electrons pushes some of the copper atoms away from the equilibrium position, resulting in a disordered sublattice, while the rest of the crystal frame remains unchanged. The study’s first author, HPSTAR Bu Kejun, explained. This is also the first time that a crystal-amorphous hybrid state has been observed at the sublattice scale of a single material, which combines low thermal conductivity and metal conductivity to achieve a synergistic improvement of two competing physical properties. (Source: China Science Daily Zhao Lu)

Related paper information:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-32419-5



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