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Author ORCID ID is 0000000281278885
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  1. Exciton photoluminescence is observed in disordered zinc tin nitride as a result of benign defect complex formation encouraged by annealing.
  2. Emerging photovoltaic materials need to prove their viability by demonstrating excellent electronic properties. In ternary and multinary semiconductors, disorder and off-stoichiometry often cause defects that limit the potential for high-efficiency solar cells. We report on Zn-rich ZnSnN 2 (Zn/(Zn + Sn) = 0.67) photoluminescence, high-resolution X-ray diffraction, and electronic structure calculations based on Monte-Carlo structural models. The mutual compensation of Zn excess and O incorporation affords a desirable reduction of the otherwise degenerate n-type doping, but also leads to a strongly off-stoichiometric and disordered atomic structure. It is therefore remarkable that we observe only near-edge photoluminescence from well-resolved excitons andmore » shallow donors and acceptors. Based on first principles calculations, this result is explained by the mutual passivation of Zn Sn and O N defects that renders both electronically benign. The calculated bandgaps range between 1.4 and 1.8 eV, depending on the degree of non-equilibrium disorder. The experimentally determined value of 1.5 eV in post-deposition annealed samples falls within this interval, indicating that further bandgap engineering by disorder control should be feasible via appropriate annealing protocols.« less
  3. Here, the controlled decomposition of metastable alloys is an attractive route to form nanostructured thermoelectric materials with reduced thermal conductivity. The ternary SnTe–MnTe and SnTe–SnSe heterostructural alloys have been demonstrated as promising materials for thermoelectric applications. In this work, the quaternary Sn 1–yMnyTe 1–xSe x phase space serves as a relevant model system to explore how a combination of computational and combinatorial-growth methods can be used to study equilibrium and non-equilibrium solubility limits. Results from first principle calculations indicate low equilibrium solubility for x,y < 0.05 that are in good agreement with results obtained from bulk equilibrium synthesis experiments andmore » predict significantly higher spinodal limits. An experimental screening using sputtered combinatorial thin film sample libraries showed a remarkable increase in non-equilibrium solubility for x,y > 0.2. These theoretical and experimental results were used to guide the bulk synthesis of metastable alloys. The ability to reproduce the non-equilibrium solubility levels in bulk materials indicates that such theoretical calculations and combinatorial growth can inform bulk synthetic routes. Further, the large difference between equilibrium and non-equilibrium solubility limits in Sn 1–yMn yTe 1–xSe x indicates these metastable alloys are attractive in terms of nano-precipitate formation for potential thermoelectric applications.« less
  4. Cu(In,Ga)Se 2 (CIGS) is presently the most efficient thin-film photovoltaic technology with efficiencies exceeding 22%. An important factor impacting the efficiency is metastability, where material changes occur over timescales of up to weeks during light exposure. A previously proposed (V Se -V Cu ) divacancy model presents a widely accepted explanation. We present experimental evidence for the optically induced metastability transition and expand the divacancy model with first-principles calculations. Using photoluminescence excitation spectroscopy, we identify a sub-bandgap optical transition that severely deteriorates the carrier lifetime. This is in accordance with the expanded divacancy model, which predicts that states below themore » conduction band are responsible for the metastability change. We determine the density–capture cross-section product of the induced lifetime-limiting states and evaluate their impact on device performance. The experimental and theoretical findings presented can allow assessment of metastability characteristics of leading thin-film photovoltaic technologies.« less
  5. The Gibbs energy, G, determines the equilibrium conditions of chemical reactions and materials stability. Despite this fundamental and ubiquitous role, G has been tabulated for only a small fraction of known inorganic compounds, impeding a comprehensive perspective on the effects of temperature and composition on materials stability and synthesizability. Here, we use the SISSO (sure independence screening and sparsifying operator) approach to identify a simple and accurate descriptor to predict G for stoichiometric inorganic compounds with ~50 meV atom -1 (~1 kcal mol -1) resolution, and with minimal computational cost, for temperatures ranging from 300-1800 K. We then apply thismore » descriptor to ~30,000 known materials curated from the Inorganic Crystal Structure Database (ICSD). Using the resulting predicted thermochemical data, we generate thousands of temperature-dependent phase diagrams to provide insights into the effects of temperature and composition on materials synthesizability and stability and to establish the temperature-dependent scale of metastability for inorganic compounds.« less
  6. All-oxide photovoltaics could open rapidly scalable manufacturing routes, if only oxide materials with suitable electronic and optical properties were developed. SnO has exceptional doping and transport properties among oxides, but suffers from a strongly indirect band gap. Here, we address this shortcoming by band-structure engineering through isovalent but heterostructural alloying with divalent cations (Mg, Ca, Sr, and Zn). Furthermore, using first-principles calculations, we show that suitable band gaps and optical properties close to that of direct semiconductors are achievable, while the comparatively small effective masses are preserved in the alloys. Initial thin film synthesis and characterization support the feasibility ofmore » the approach.« less
  7. Structure and composition control the behavior of materials. Isostructural alloying is historically an extremely successful approach for tuning materials properties, but it is often limited by binodal and spinodal decomposition, which correspond to the thermodynamic solubility limit and the stability against composition fluctuations, respectively. We show that heterostructural alloys can exhibit a markedly increased range of metastable alloy compositions between the binodal and spinodal lines, thereby opening up a vast phase space for novel homogeneous single-phase alloys. We distinguish two types of heterostructural alloys, that is, those between commensurate and incommensurate phases. Because of the structural transition around the criticalmore » composition, the properties change in a highly nonlinear or even discontinuous fashion, providing a mechanism for materials design that does not exist in conventional isostructural alloys. The novel phase diagram behavior follows from standard alloy models using mixing enthalpies from first-principles calculations. Furthermore, thin-film deposition demonstrates the viability of the synthesis of these metastable single-phase domains and validates the computationally predicted phase separation mechanism above the upper temperature bound of the nonequilibrium single-phase region.« less
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  8. The ability of a material to adopt multiple structures, known as polymorphism, is a fascinating natural phenomenon. Various polymorphs with unusual properties are routinely synthesized by compression under positive pressure. However, changing a material's structure by applying tension under negative pressure is much more difficult. We show how negative-pressure polymorphs can be synthesized by mixing materials with different crystal structures - a general approach that should be applicable to many materials. Theoretical calculations suggest that it costs less energy to mix low-density structures than high-density structures, due to less competition for space between the atoms. Proof-of-concept experiments confirm that mixingmore » two different high-density forms of MnSe and MnTe stabilizes a Mn(Se,Te) alloy with a low-density wurtzite structure. This Mn(Se,Te) negative-pressure polymorph has 2x to 4x lower electron effective mass compared to MnSe and MnTe parent compounds and has a piezoelectric response that none of the parent compounds have. Lastly, this example shows how heterostructural alloying can lead to negative-pressure polymorphs with useful properties - materials that are otherwise nearly impossible to make.« less
  9. For the case of n-type doping of β-Ga 2O 3 by group 14 dopants (C, Si, Ge, Sn), a defect phase diagram is constructed from defect equilibria calculated over a range of temperatures (T), O partial pressures (pO 2), and dopant concentrations. The underlying defect levels and formation energies are determined from first-principles supercell calculations with GW bandgap corrections. Only Si is found to be a truly shallow donor, C is a deep DX-like (lattice relaxed donor) center, and Ge and Sn have defect levels close to the conduction band minimum. The thermodynamic modeling includes the effect of association ofmore » dopant-defect pairs and complexes, which causes the net doping to decline when exceeding a certain optimal dopant concentration. The optimal doping levels are surprisingly low, between about 0.01% and 1% of cation substitution, depending on the (T, pO 2) conditions. Considering further the stability constraints due to sublimation of molecular Ga 2O, specific predictions of optimized pO 2 and Si dopant concentrations are given. To conclude, the incomplete passivation of dopant-defect complexes in β-Ga 2O 3 suggests a design rule for metastable doping above the solubility limit.« less
  10. The success of recently discovered absorber materials for photovoltaic applications has been generating increasing interest in systematic materials screening over the last years. However, the key for a successful materials screening is a suitable selection metric that goes beyond the Shockley-Queisser theory that determines the thermodynamic efficiency limit of an absorber material solely by its band-gap energy. Here, we develop a selection metric to quantify the potential photovoltaic efficiency of a material. Our approach is compatible with detailed balance and applicable in computational and experimental materials screening. We use the complex refractive index to calculate radiative and nonradiative efficiency limitsmore » and the respective optimal thickness in the high mobility limit. We also compare our model to the widely applied selection metric by Yu and Zunger [Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 068701 (2012)] with respect to their dependence on thickness, internal luminescence quantum efficiency, and refractive index. Finally, the model is applied to complex refractive indices calculated via electronic structure theory.« less

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