Add a Pinch of Tetrel: The Transformation of a Centrosymmetric Metal into a Nonsymmorphic and Chiral Semiconductor

Date
2021-12-09
Authors
Lee, Shannon
Viswanathan, Gayatri
Carnahan, Scott
Harmer, Colin
Akopov, Georgiy
Rossini, Aaron
Kovnir, Kirill
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Wiley
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Chemistry
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Ames Laboratory
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Abstract
Centrosymmetric skutterudite RhP3 was converted to a nonsymmorphic and chiral compound RhSi0.3P2.7 (space group P212121) by means of partial replacement of Si for P. The structure, determined by a combination of X-ray crystallography and solid state 31P NMR, exhibits branched polyanionic P/Si chains that are unique among metal phosphides. A driving force to stabilize the locally noncentrosymmetric cis-RhSi2P4 and fac-RhSi3P3 fragments is p-electron back-donation between the Rh t2g-type orbitals and the unoccupied antibonding Si/P orbitals, which is more effective for Si than for P. In situ studies and total energy calculations revealed the metastable nature of RhSi0.3P2.7. Electronic structure calculations predicted centrosymmetric cubic RhP3 to be metallic which was confirmed by transport properties measurements. In contrast, the electronic structure for chiral orthorhombic RhSi0.3P2.7 contained a bandgap, and this compound was shown to be a narrow gap semiconductor.
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