Interconnected-Nanocrystal Networks-Reflections in the Surreal Mirror

An Interconnected-Nanocrystal Network Expends the Synthetically Accessible Chemical Space for Materials Design.

August 18, 2022

Solids from a collection of atoms can adopt a variety of structural phases having respective physical and chemical properties, providing entire chemical space for materials discovery.  At ambient conditions, there is often one thermodynamically stable phase for a given atomic collection, and the rest can potentially become metastable as kinetically trapped phases with positive free energies above the equilibrium state.  However, a general strategy for engineering kinetic barriers has yet to be developed but is essential for the rational synthesis of new materials and for expanding the space of synthesizable metastable materials. 

Recently, the Cao group has invented a method of using interparticle sintering to engineer kinetic barriers between the phase transformations in nanocrystals, producing ambient metastable structures in a controllable manner. The resulting interconnected nanocrystal networks are identified as a new form of matter for hosting metastable high-energy phases at ambient conditions.  This finding suggests general rules for transformation-barrier engineering which is important for rational design of next-generation materials. 

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