Soft Chemical Approaches to the Synthesis of Metastable Materials

Project: Research project

Project Details


The development of a rational, targeted approach to synthesizing metastable materials is a grand challenge of synthesis. Over the past century, the thermodynamic phase diagrams have been theoretically mapped and experimentally explored. Progressing to a new generation of materials necessitates expanding our synthetic landscape to metastable materials, or kinetic products. Indeed, creating metastable materials is a dominant in contemporary solid-state research. Over the past several decades metastable materials were isolated: from solution phase routes i.e. flux-based synthesis; aggressive conditions i.e. high-pressure synthesis; soft chemical approaches i.e. metathesis. Each of these routes led to successful creation of novel kinetic phases. Yet, designing a specific synthetic route to a target compound remains a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Within molecular chemistry, databases of known reactions exist, enabling simple modification synthetic procedures and rational synthesis of designed target molecules. Within metastable materials in the solid-state, devoid of the guidance provided by thermodynamic phase diagrams, exploration is inherently blind. Understanding which synthetic routes will lead to a given product is a tremendous undertaking, and herein, we propose a small initial step towards that vital grand challenge. We begin with a simple question: can a given local minimum on a potential energy surface be accessed through two separate synthetic approaches? To address that question, we will target compounds accessed one synthetic approach via an alternate approach and determine what factors govern the formation of the phases. Specifically, we propose creating novel metastable phases by high-pressure synthesis then elucidating the means by which solution phase chemistry can generate such compounds at ambient pressure. We will focus our efforts within the highly promising area of main group element-transition metal binary systems, and employ a wide range of soft chemical approaches to access those materials.
Effective start/end date5/1/174/30/22


  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-17-1-0247-P00003)


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