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Nature. 2006 Jun 29;441(7097):1122-5.

Mesostructured germanium with cubic pore symmetry.


Regular mesoporous oxide materials have been widely studied and have a range of potential applications, such as catalysis, absorption and separation. They are not generally considered for their optical and electronic properties. Elemental semiconductors with nanopores running through them represent a different form of framework material with physical characteristics contrasting with those of the more conventional bulk, thin film and nanocrystalline forms. Here we describe cubic mesostructured germanium, MSU-Ge-1, with gyroidal channels containing surfactant molecules, separated by amorphous walls that lie on the gyroid (G) minimal surface as in the mesoporous silica MCM-48 (ref. 2). Although Ge is a high-melting, covalent semiconductor that is difficult to prepare from solution polymerization, we succeeded in assembling a continuous Ge network using a suitable precursor for Ge(4-) atoms. Our results indicate that elemental semiconductors from group 14 of the periodic table can be made to adopt mesostructured forms such as MSU-Ge-1, which features two three-dimensional labyrinthine tunnels obeying Ia3d space group symmetry and separated by a continuous germanium minimal surface that is otherwise amorphous. A consequence of this new structure for germanium, which has walls only one nanometre thick, is a wider electronic energy bandgap (1.4 eV versus 0.66 eV) than has crystalline or amorphous Ge. Controlled oxidation of MSU-Ge-1 creates a range of germanium suboxides with continuously varying Ge:O ratio and a smoothly increasing energy gap.


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