Rapid direct conversion of Cu2−xSe to CuAgSe nanoplatelets via ion exchange reactions at room temperature†
The use of template nanostructures for the creation of photovoltaic and thermoelectric semiconductors is becoming a quickly expanding synthesis strategy. In this work we report a simple two-step process enabling the formation of ternary CuAgSe nanoplatelets with a great degree of control over the composition and shape. Starting with hexagonal nanoplatelets of cubic Cu2−xSe, ternary CuAgSe nanoplatelets were generated through a rapid ion exchange reaction at 300 K using AgNO3 solution. The Cu2−xSe nanoplatelet template and the final CuAgSe nanoplatelets were analyzed by electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction (XRD). It was found that both the low temperature pseudotetragonal and the high temperature cubic forms of CuAgSe phase were created while maintaining the morphology of the Cu2−xSe nanoplatelet template. Thermal and electronic transport measurements of hot-pressed pellets of the synthesized CuAgSe nanoplatelets showed a drastic reduction in the thermal conductivity and a sharp transition from n-type (S = −45 μV K−1) to p-type (S = +200 μV K−1) semiconducting behavior upon heating above the structural transition from the low temperature orthorhombic to the high temperature super-ionic cubic phase. This simple reaction process utilizing a template nanostructure matrix represents an energy efficient, cost-efficient, and versatile strategy to create interesting materials with lower defect density and superior thermoelectric performance.