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Nature of Hexagonal Silicon Forming via High-Pressure Synthesis: Nanostructured Hexagonal 4H Polytype

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journal contribution
posted on 13.08.2018, 00:00 by Silvia Pandolfi, Carlos Renero-Lecuna, Yann Le Godec, Benoit Baptiste, Nicolas Menguy, Michele Lazzeri, Christel Gervais, Kristina Spektor, Wilson A. Crichton, Oleksandr O. Kurakevych
Hexagonal Si allotropes are expected to enhance light absorption in the visible range as compared to common cubic Si with diamond structure. Therefore, synthesis of these materials is crucial for the development of Si-based optoelectronics. In this work, we combine in situ high-pressure high-temperature synthesis and vacuum heating to obtain hexagonal Si. High pressure is one of the most promising routes to stabilize these allotropes. It allows one to obtain large-volume nanostructured ingots by a sequence of direct solid–solid transformations, ensuring high-purity samples for detailed characterization. Thanks to our synthesis approach, we provide the first evidence of a polycrystalline bulk sample of hexagonal Si. Exhaustive structural analysis, combining fine-powder X-ray and electron diffraction, afforded resolution of the crystal structure. We demonstrate that hexagonal Si obtained by high-pressure synthesis correspond to Si-4H polytype (ABCB stacking) in contrast with Si-2H (AB stacking) proposed previously. This result agrees with prior calculations that predicted a higher stability of the 4H form over 2H form. Further physical characterization, combining experimental data and ab initio calculations, have shown a good agreement with the established structure. Strong photoluminescence emission was observed in the visible region for which we foresee optimistic perspectives for the use of this material in Si-based photovoltaics.