Theoretical investigations of novel Janus Pb2SSe monolayer as a potential multifunctional material for piezoelectric, photovoltaic, and thermoelectric applications†
Two-dimensional Janus nanomaterials, due to their unique electronic, optical, and piezoelectric characteristics resulting from the antisymmetric structures, exhibit great prospects in multifunctional energy application to alleviate the energy crisis. Monolayer Janus Pb2SSe, with a black phosphorus-like structure and an indirect band gap of 1.59 eV as well as high carrier mobility (526–2105 cm2 V−1 s−1), displays outstanding potentials in the energy conversion between nanomechanical energy, solar energy, waste heat, and electricity, which has been comprehensively studied utilizing DFT-based simulations. The research results reveal that monolayer Pb2SSe not only possesses giant in-plane piezoelectricity of d11 = 75.1 pm V−1 but also superhigh out-of-plane piezoelectric coefficients (d31 = 0.5 pm V−1 and d33 = 15.7 pm V−1). Meanwhile, by constructing Pb2SSe bilayers, the out-of-plane piezoelectric coefficients can be significantly enhanced (d31 = 19.2 pm V−1 and d33 = 194.7 pm V−1). In addition, owing to the small conduction band offset, suitable donor band gap and excellent light absorption capability in the Pb2SSe/SnSe (Pb2SSe/GeSe) heterostructure, the power conversion efficiencies were calculated to be up to 20.02% (Pb2SSe/SnSe) and 19.28% (Pb2SSe/GeSe), making it a promising candidate for solar energy collection. Furthermore, from the thermoelectric electron and phonon transport calculations, it can be found that the Pb2SSe monolayer is an n-type thermoelectric material with ultrahigh ZT = 2.19 (1.52) at room temperature, which can be traced back to its ultralow κL = 0.78 (0.99) W m−1 K−1, and superhigh PF = 10.18 (8.25) mW m−1 K−2 along the x(y) direction at the optimal doping concentration at 300 K. The abovementioned versatile characteristics in the Janus Pb2SSe monolayer, along with its comprehensive stabilities (energy, dynamic, thermal, and mechanical stabilities), highlight its potential in clean energy harvesting.