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Phys Rev Lett. 2010 May 28;104(21):216404. Epub 2010 May 27.

Sodium: a charge-transfer insulator at high pressures.

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Nano-Bio Spectroscopy Group, Departamento Física de Materiales, Universidad del País Vasco, Centro de Física de Materiales CSIC-UPV/EHU-MPC and DIPC, Avenida Tolosa 72, E-20018 San Sebastián, Spain.


By first-principles methods we analyze the optical response of transparent dense sodium as a function of applied pressure. We discover an unusual kind of charge-transfer exciton that proceeds from the interstitial distribution of valence electrons. The absorption spectrum is strongly anisotropic, which, just at pressures above the metal-insulator transition, manifests as sodium being optically transparent in one direction but reflective in the other. This result provides key information about the crystal structure of transparent sodium, a new unconventional inorganic electride.

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