Discovery of new form of crystalline order
A scanning transmission electron microscope image showing an interlaced crystalline structure in a copper-indium-sulfide nanoparticle.
Scientists have known for over a century that crystalline materials are organized into 14 different basic lattice structures. But a team of researchers at Vanderbilt University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory discovered an entirely new form of crystalline order that simultaneously exhibits both crystal and polycrystalline properties, which they describe as "interlaced crystals."
The researchers found the unusual arrangement of atoms while studying nanoparticles made from the semiconductor copper-indium sulfide, which is being actively studied for use in solar cells. The researchers say the interlaced crystal arrangement has properties that make it ideal for thermoelectric applications that turn heat into electricity. The discovery of materials with improved thermoelectric efficiency could increase the efficiency of electrical power generation, improve automobile mileage and reduce the cost of air conditioning.
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (grants DMR 09-38330, EPS 10-04083 and CHE 12-53105) and the U.S. Department of Energy.
To learn more, see the Vanderbilt news story New form of crystalline order holds promise for thermoelectric applications. (Date of Image: 2014)
Credit: Wu Zhou, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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