Pathways to exotic metastable silicon allotropes

Bianca Haberl, Timothy A. Strobel, Jodie E. Bradby

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    64 Citations (Scopus)


    The Group 14 element silicon possesses a complex free-energy landscape with many (local) minima, allowing for the formation of a variety of unusual structures, some of which may be stabilized at ambient conditions. Such exotic silicon allotropes represent a significant opportunity to address the ever-increasing demand for novel materials with tailored functionality since these exotic forms are expected to exhibit superlative properties including optimized band gaps for solar power conversion. The application of pressure is a well-recognized and uniquely powerful method to access exotic states of silicon since it promotes large changes to atomic bonding. Conventional high-pressure syntheses, however, lack the capability to access many of these local minima and only four forms of exotic silicon allotropes have been recovered over the last 50 years. However, more recently, significant advances in high pressure methodologies and the use of novel precursor materials have yielded at least three more recoverable exotic Si structures. This review aims to give an overview of these innovative methods of high-pressure application and precursor selection and the recent discoveries of new Si allotropes. The background context of the conventional pressure methods and multitude of predicted new phases are also provided. This review also offers a perspective for possible access to many further exotic functional allotropes not only of silicon but also of other materials, in a technologically feasible manner.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number040808
    JournalApplied Physics Reviews
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


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