In Situ Mechanistic Studies of Two Divergent Synthesis Routes Forming the Heteroanionic BiOCuSe

Rebecca McClain, Christos D. Malliakas, Jiahong Shen, Christopher Wolverton, Mercouri G. Kanatzidis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Heteroanionic materials are a burgeoning class of compounds that offer new properties via the targeted selection of anions. However, understanding the design principles and achieving successful syntheses of new materials in this class are in their infancy. To obtain mechanistic insight and a panoramic view of the reaction progression from beginning to end of the formation of a heteroanionic material, we selected BiOCuSe, a well-known thermoelectric compound, and utilized in situ synchrotron powder diffraction as a function of temperature and time. BiOCuSe is a layered material, which crystallizes in a common mixed anion structure type: ZrSiAsFe. Two reactions of starting materials (Bi2O2Se + Cu2Se and Bi2O3 + Bi + 3Cu + 3Se) were studied to determine the effect of precursors on the reaction pathway. Our in situ investigation shows that the ternary-binary Bi2O2Se + Cu2Se reaction proceeds without intermediates to directly form BiOCuSe, while the binary-elemental Bi2O3 + Bi + 3Cu + 3Se reaction generates many intermediates before the final product forms. These intermediates include CuSe, Bi3Se4, Bi2Se3, and Cu2Se. While the stoichiometric loading of the precursors necessarily dictates the identity of the first intermediates, kinetics also plays a contributing role in stabilizing unexpected intermediates such as CuSe and Bi3Se4. Understanding and establishing a link between the selection of precursors and the reaction pathways improves the potential for rational synthesis of heteroanionic materials and solid-state reactions in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12090-12099
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 11 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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