Scientists from Carnegie Science have created a new form of silicon with an altered indirect band gap that shows promise for use in next-generation, high-efficiency applications. This is the first time silicon has a quasi-direct band gap that falls within the desired range for solar absorption.
Traditional silicon, when purified, takes on a diamond structure, but this new silicon form is comprised of an open framework that is made of channels with five, six, or eight-membered silicon rings. The team used a unique high-pressure precursor process to create the pure silicon allotrope, Si24. The use of this new process is a breakthrough in the development of novel energy materials and could lead to advances in large-volume scaling strategies.