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  • Expanded Stability of Layered SnSe-PbSe Alloys and Evidence of Displacive Phase Transformation from Rocksalt in Heteroepitaxial Thin Films. ACS nano Reddy, P. D., Nordin, L. J., Hughes, L. B., Preidl, A. K., Mukherjee, K. 2024


    Bulk PbSnSe has a two-phase region, or miscibility gap, as the crystal changes from a van der Waals-bonded orthorhombic 2D layered structure in SnSe-rich compositions to the related 3D-bonded rocksalt structure in PbSe-rich compositions. This structural transition drives a large contrast in the electrical, optical, and thermal properties. We realize low temperature direct growth of epitaxial PbSnSe thin films on GaAs via molecular beam epitaxy using an in situ PbSe surface treatment and show a significantly reduced two-phase region by stabilizing the Pnma layered structure out to Pb0.45Sn0.55Se, beyond the bulk limit around Pb0.25Sn0.75Se at low temperatures. Pushing further, we directly access metastable two-phase films of layered and rocksalt grains that are nearly identical in composition around Pb0.50Sn0.50Se and entirely circumvent the miscibility gap. We present microstructural and compositional evidence for an incomplete displacive transformation from a rocksalt to layered structure in these films, which we speculate occurs during the sample cooling to room temperature after synthesis. In situ temperature-cycling experiments on a Pb0.58Sn0.42Se rocksalt film reproduce characteristic attributes of a displacive transition and show a modulation in electronic properties. We find well-defined orientation relationships between the phases formed and reveal unconventional strain relief mechanisms involved in the crystal structure transformation using transmission electron microscopy. Overall, our work adds a scalable thin film integration route to harness the dramatic contrast in material properties in PbSnSe across a potentially ultrafast crystalline-crystalline structural transition.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsnano.4c04128

    View details for PubMedID 38717390