Synthetic 2-D lead tin sulfide nanosheets with tuneable optoelectronic properties from a potentially scalable reaction pathway†
Solventless thermolysis of molecular precursors followed by liquid phase exfoliation allows access to two-dimensional IV–VI semiconductor nanomaterials hitherto unreachable by a scalable processing pathway. Firstly, the use of metal dithiocarbamate precursors to produce bulk alloys in the series Pb1−xSnxS (0 ≤ x ≤ 1) by thermolysis is demonstrated. The bulk powders are characterised by powder X-ray diffraction (pXRD), Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy. It was found that there is a transition from cubic structures for the Pb-rich alloys including the end compound, PbS (0 ≤ x ≤ 0.4) to layered orthorhombic structures for Sn-rich alloys and the end compound SnS (0.5 ≤ x ≤ 1.0). A smooth elemental progression from lead-rich to tin-rich monochalcogenides across the series of materials is observed. Liquid phase exfoliation was applied to produce two dimensional (2D) nanosheets for a mixed Pb1−xSnxS alloy (where x = 0.8) in 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) using the synthetic bulk powder as starting material. The nanosheet products were characterized by SEM, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and high angle annular dark field scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF STEM). First principle calculations of Pb1−xSnxS alloys show that the Sn content x modifies the size of the band gap by several 100 meV and that x changes the gap type from indirect in SnS to direct in Pb0.2Sn0.8S. These results are supported by UV-Vis spectroscopy of exfoliated Pb0.2Sn0.8S. The method employed demonstrates a new, scalable, processing pathway which can potentially be used to synthesize a range of synthetic layered structures that can be exfoliated to as-yet unaccessed 2D materials with tunable electronic properties.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Tin Collection – a celebration of our 10th anniversary