Prediction and Synthesis of Strain Tolerant RbCuTe Crystals Based on Rotation of One-Dimensional Nano Ribbons within a Three-Dimensional Inorganic Network

Michael J.Devries Vermeer, Xiuwen Zhang, Giancarlo Trimarchi, Martin D. Donakowski, Peter J. Chupas, Kenneth R. Poeppelmeier, Alex Zunger

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7 Citations (Scopus)


A unique possibility for a simple strain tolerant inorganic solid is envisioned whereby a set of isolated, one-dimensional (1D) nano objects are embedded in an elastically soft three-dimensional (3D) atomic matrix thus forming an interdimensional hybrid structure (IDHS). We predict theoretically that the concerted rotation of 1D nano objects could allow such IDHSs to tolerate large strain values with impunity. Searching theoretically among the 1:1:1 ABX compounds of I-I-VI composition, we identified, via first-principles thermodynamic theory, RbCuTe, which is a previously unreported but now predicted-to-be-stable compound in the MgSrSi-type structure, in space group Pnma. The predicted structure of RbCuTe consists of ribbons of copper and telluride atoms placed antipolar to one another throughout the lattice with rubidium atoms acting as a matrix. A novel synthetic adaptation utilizing liquid rubidium and vacuum annealing of the mixed elemental reagents in fused silica tubes as well as in situ (performed at the Advanced Photon Source) and ex situ structure determination confirmed the stability and predicted structure of RbCuTe. First-principles calculations then showed that the application of up to ∼30% uniaxial strain on the ground-state structure result in a buildup of internal stress not exceeding 0.5 GPa. The increase in total energy is 15-fold smaller than what is obtained for the same RbCuTe material but in structures having a contiguous set of 3D chemical bonds spanning the entire crystal. Furthermore, electronic structure calculations revealed that the HOMO is a 1D energy band localized on the CuTe ribbons and that the 1D insulating band structure is also resilient to such large strains. This combined theory and experiment study reveals a new type of strain tolerant inorganic material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11383-11390
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - Sep 9 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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