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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J011533/1
Title: New transition metal oxychalcogenides
Principal Investigator: Evans, Professor JSO
Other Investigators:
Clark, Professor SJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
NIST (Nat. Inst of Standards and Technol
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: Durham, University of
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2012 Ends: 15 July 2015 Value (£): 361,086
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Condensed Matter Physics Materials Characterisation
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Dec 2011 EPSRC Physical Sciences Materials - December Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In this proposal we request funding to investigate the synthesis, structures and electronic/magnetic properties of a variety of new transition metal oxychalcogenides. These are relatively unusual materials which simultaneously contain an oxide (O2-) and a second chalcogenide (S2-, Se2-, Te2-) anion, as opposed to more commonly found species such as sulfates or sulfites (SO42- and SO32-) in which the chalcogen has a positive formal charge. Mixed anion materials are interesting as they frequently contain transition metals in unusual chemical or electronic environments. This can lead to materials with unexpected and fascinating electronic, magnetic or optical properties. A now-classic example of this was the 2008 discovery by Hosono et al. of 26 K superconductivity (now known at temperatures up to 55 K) in materials derived from a oxypnictide LaOFeAs. Superconductivity in an iron-based system such as this at such high temperatures was unprecedented, entirely unexpected and led to significant world-wide interest. Other interesting mixed anion phases include materials such as LnOCuS (Ln = lanthanide) and La2O2CdSe2, which are rare examples of p-type transparent conductors, and could find a range of applications in display devices.

In this research programme we plan work in three main areas. Firstly, we want to tune the electronic properties of a fascinating and unusual family of materials of composition Ln2O2M2OSe2 (Ln = lanthanide, M = transition metal). These are closely related to the superconducting pnictide systems but, in their undoped state, lie on the insulator side of a insulator-to-metal boundary. We plan various approaches to chemically modify them to change their conductivity, ideally towards the superconducting region of the phase diagram, and to understand both their structural and physical properties. Secondly, we aim to extend our recent successes in the preparation of novel materials with the closely related composition Ln2O2MSe2. We again aim to understand, control and exploit their electrical and optical properties. We believe discoveries here will also help understand the pnictide systems. In our final work strand we believe that we can adopt a variety of ideas learned from our work and that of others to prepare new families of materials of general formula (LnOQ)1-xMx and (LnOQ)1-xMQx - what we call "4 Angstrom phases". Our aim is to explore the properties of these new phases.

The synthetic side of our work will be supported via a variety of characterisation and theoretical methods. We will apply X-ray and neutron scattering techniques to probe the structures, structural changes and magnetic interactions in the materials. The physical properties of interesting materials (conductivity, magnetism, heat capacity, etc) will be measured using equipment available in Durham. Plane wave density functional theory will be used to help us predict and understand the properties of materials targetted or prepared. We believe this synergic approach will allow rapid and insightful progress.

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